Booster vaccine shots for over-50s to start today
Covid-19 booster shots will be give to people aged 50 or over and those with chronic health problems from today.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said boosters were already available for emergency and healthcare workers, along with people aged over 65.
Booster jabs are administered only to people who had the first two doses of the vaccine more than six months previously.
Ms Wilson added that boosters had already been administered to 5,512 people, but the uptake has been slower than hoped.
Booster shots have been given to almost 40 per cent of eligible people aged between 70 and 79 and about a third of the eligible people aged 80 or older had received a booster.
Ms Wilson said: “Regrettably, it’s a case where people are not registering as quickly as we would have liked, as was anticipated.”
She added 85,820 Covid-19 vaccinations had been delivered in the past 42 weeks.
Ms Wilson said 86 per cent of people aged more than 65 have had one shot and 84.5 per cent were fully immunised by the end of October.
She added 70.6 per cent of the population have had one dose and 69 per cent have had two doses.
Ms Wilson said some people had not shown up for their second vaccination appointment – something she said was likely due to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.
She appealed to the public to call and reschedule if they discovered they were unable to attend an appointment.
Ms Wilson highlighted that more people had died from Covid-19 in Bermuda than had been killed on military service in both world wars.
She said a memorial service for those who had died as a result of the pandemic will be held next week.
Ms Wilson also emphasised that the rapid antigen tests approved for use last month were not a substitute for the “gold standard” PCR method.
She said there had been a case last week where an individual tested clear for the coronavirus with an antigen test but was later positive on a PCR test.
Ayo Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, said people who were eligible for booster shots should sign up because viral infections like Covid-19 were more common over the winter months.
Dr Oyinloye added that more vaccine was expected to arrive next week and that the island had an adequate supply.
He said the number of active cases from the last wave had declined, but appealed to the public not to be complacent.
Dr Oyinloye said the source of some cases were still under investigation, which meant Bermuda was still had community transmission.
He added that the rapid mutation of the Covid-19 virus meant that the threshold for herd immunity had changed.
He said that, because the Delta variant was more contagious than the original strain, the level of immunisation needed to be higher.
Ms Wilson added that Bermuda still had “vaccine deserts” where immunisation levels were very low.
She said that meant that a high level of vaccination nationally did not mean all neighbourhoods were safe.
Wesley Miller, the chief of staff at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, said hospital discharges had outpaced admissions and there was only one Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit.
Dr Miller said almost all hospital staff were now back at work and outpatient services and outpatient elective surgeries had restarted on Monday.
He added that vaccination rates among BHB staff had risen and 85 per cent of nurses at the KEMH had been given at least one dose of the vaccine.
Dr Miller said 68 per cent of BHB staff were fully immunised and another three per cent had had their first dose of the vaccine.
He said KEMH staff had also started to get the booster shot and the uptake had been “good”.