MP calls for faltering vaccine programme to be revived
An Opposition MP has called for the Government to launch a fresh campaign to revive the vaccination programme.
Michael Dunkley, the Opposition spokesman for health and national security, made the call last night after new statistics showed the number of people getting vaccinated had slowed.
The number of people who have been fully immunised rose by just 0.4 per cent in the past week. A health department spokeswoman said 63.7 per cent of the population has had two doses of the vaccine, up from 63.3 per cent a week ago.
In total, just 0.5 per cent of the population – around 320 people – have received a second shot of the vaccine in the last two weeks.
She said 65 per cent had received at least one dose compared to 64.8 per cent a week earlier.
Government has said that 70 per cent of the population will need to be immunised in order to reach herd immunity – a target it originally hoped to hit by the end of May.
But last month Carika Weldon, Government’s scientific adviser, said that herd immunity immunisation rates may have to be raised to 87.5 per cent after the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 was discovered on the island.
Last night Mr Dunkley said: “The latest vaccination statistics illustrate the concern raised for weeks now – we are failing to vaccinate significant numbers to achieve community immunity.
“And now, with that number being raised to almost 90 per cent, it is clear that we have a real challenge to dispel any hesitancy and convince more people to get the jab.
“I support the vaccine and trust the science. I urge the Government to launch a new campaign with strong public messages highlighting the positive impact of the vaccine and dispelling the myths propagated.
“Over the past few weeks there has been no public message, or very little at best. This is not good enough.
“I had no hesitancy in taking the jab but before I did I researched it, talked to people I trust and respect and then had the first dose. People who know me are well aware that good health and fitness are very important to me.
“I work out every day. I try to eat a balanced diet, and get ample rest. I am glad I took the two jabs to help protect myself and those around me. My family have also all been vaccinated.
“While I respect a person’s right to make the decision, because this vaccine is safe and effective, I urge those not vaccinated yet to strongly consider it."
Government did not respond to questions from The Royal Gazette on its vaccination programme by press time last night.
Aslo last night, government said immunised travellers will no longer have to take a day 14 Covid-19 test after returning to Bermuda.
Instead Kim Wilson, the minister of health, said that from this Friday, they will only have to be tested on arrival, day four and day ten. Previously travellers had to be tested on arrival, day four, day eight and day 14.
No reason was given for the change, but hoteliers and tourism industry leaders have said that Bermuda’s frequent testing requirements have been a deterrent to tourism bookings.
The news came as a further five cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the latest round of test results.
The number of active cases remains at 15 after five people recovered from the virus since Friday.
All five new cases – which came from 8,302 tests conducted last Thursday, Friday and Saturday – were imported by people arriving on flights between July 9 and July 18.
The 15 active cases are under public health monitoring, with no sufferers in hospital.
In her statement, Ms Wilson also said the travel authorisation process had been “upgraded”.
She said: “Travellers who have their TA rejected now receive a rejection e-mail that states the TA error and allows them to re-upload documentation without calling the call centre.
“Once new documentation is uploaded, the traveller’s TA moves back to the TA approvals list for review.
“This allows for a smoother application process for those TAs that are rejected for one reason or another and will reduce the need for travellers to phone or e-mail the call centre.”
Parents and guardians sending their children to summer day camps were also reminded to complete the online camp registration form and follow the public health guidance on www.gov.bm/camp-guidance, where approved camps are listed.
Ms Wilson said: “Parents and guardians are encouraged to send their children to approved camps only. Approved camps are assessed for Covid-19 compliance by public health professionals and issued a certificate of approval. Camps that are not approved risk closure by enforcement personnel.”