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Vaccine booster shots to be delivered

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The Hamilton Princess and Beach Club Vaccination Clinic. Pictured: Chef Suranga Gerada (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A vaccine booster programme against Covid-19 is to be launched after the arrival of 11,700 doses of the jab from the UK.

But the public was warned not to try registering for the booster until an online site is in place.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the booster will go to rest home residents and staff from Saturday and to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital vaccine centre on Sunday.

Antigen tests for the virus will start next week in rest homes staff.

Ms Wilson said there were still seven rest homes dealing with outbreaks.

The consignment came in the wake of an increase of new vaccinations, with at least 68.9 per cent of the population having received one dose and 66.7 per cent immunised with both doses.

The KEMH vaccine centre will start to booster shots on Wednesdays and Sundays from 8am to 8pm.

People who want first and second doses of the vaccine can continue to walk in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A second vaccine booster centre will open next week at the National Sports Centre.

Ms Wilson said eligibility for boosters would start with the immunosuppressed, followed by people aged over 65, then frontline healthcare workers.

Only people who have been fully immunised for six months will be eligible for the booster.

Ms Wilson revealed new statistics on vaccines and hospitalisation.

She said that, since the start of the vaccination programme in January, 275 people had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

A total of 249, or 90 per cent, of the 275 were not fully vaccinated and 27, or 10 per cent, were fully vaccinated.

Of the people who had been admitted to hospital and had died, 55, or 82 per cent, were not fully vaccinated and 12 or 18 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Ms Wilson said the statistics showed that the vaccine “still remains our very best defence”.

Premier on Harsh Lessons of the Latest Outbreak

David Burt, the Premier, said he hoped the public would understand that he and the medical establishment were “not trying to push poison” when they appealed to people to get vaccinated.

Mr Burt added: “We are trying to save lives.”

He said that the crisis was “incredibly painful” and highlighted the exhaustion and “emotional strain” of frontline workers.

Mr Burt appealed to people to “take measures into our own hands” and not focus on “trying to tear people down”.

He warned that, with the population’s rate of vaccination, “we should not have this massive stress on our healthcare system”.

Mr Burt added: “But vaccination and protection are not uniformly distributed throughout our community.”

Case numbers continued to decrease as the island’s experienced its fourth and biggest wave of Covid-19.

But Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, warned risks remained, especially as schools returned to classroom learning.

He said the fourth wave had shown the virus could spread rapidly and highlighted that a significant proportion of the population remained unvaccinated.

Dr Oyinloye added: “As we’ve seen from previous waves, things tend to get worse with successive waves.

“We are hoping this doesn’t happen, but if it does, the driver for that outbreak will be people who are not vaccinated.”

Wesley Miller, the chief of staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said Covid-19 hospital discharges now outpaced Covid admissions.

He added that 31 people had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the past week and 41 went home.

Dr Miller said patient numbers had dipped below 60 but were still higher than the 40 Covid-19 patients at the peak of the third wave.

He added that admissions to the Intensive Care Unit continued to exceed discharges.

Dr Miller said demands on staff had declined but remained above normal, particularly as the satellite ICUs remained open.

He added the latest statistics for hospital nurses showed that 76 per cent were now fully immunised and four per cent had had their first doses.

Dr Miller appealed people to come to the hospital if they felt seriously ill.

He said the chances of patients getting Covid-19 in the hospital was extremely low.

Mr Burt said the Government’s primary goal remained to get students back in school.

He said 33 per cent of preschools and schools will have completed saliva testing by today after they hit 80 per cent consent for the tests, which should enable children to return to school next week.

But Mr Burt said the curfew would remain in force.

Gatherings of more than 20 people will still need large group exemptions, but indoor gatherings will be eligible for exemptions.

Mr Burt added that sports organisations could now move to Stage 3 – training in preparation for a return of play – and the Bermuda Football Association season would kick off again on October 23.

He said that, despite mandatory vaccination being introduced in the Cayman Islands for non-Caymanian residents, the Government’s position had not changed.

Mr Burt added that mandatory vaccines would criminalise people and he was not prepared to do that.

But Mr Burt said he hoped teachers, healthcare workers and “every single Bermudian” would get vaccinated.

He added the latest wave of the pandemic had been painful.

Mr Burt warned the outbreak showed the coronavirus would remain a threat for a long time – and that further spikes could not be ruled out.

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Published October 07, 2021 at 7:45 am (Updated October 09, 2021 at 8:11 am)

Vaccine booster shots to be delivered

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