Vaccine booster given to people not yet eligible for the shots
Health officials admitted that “some people” under 50 had “slipped through the cracks” and managed to get a Covid-19 vaccine booster despite not being eligible yet.
But the Ministry of Health could not give a number or explain why immunised people aged under 50 and who were fully vaccinated at least six months ago were advised on the Government website to book appointments for the boosters.
A spokeswoman said e-mails would be sent to anyone under 50 with an appointment booked to outline the eligibility rules.
A notice that advised people to book a booster shot appeared earlier this month on the online Covid-19 vaccination records of people already double-jabbed.
A link allowed people to book a slot at a vaccination centre to receive the booster, but The Royal Gazette is aware of people under 50 then being turned away on arrival.
They were told they could not have the booster because only people aged 50 or older are eligible at present, as well as healthcare workers, essential and critical service workers, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions aged 12 to 49.
The ministry spokeswoman said: “The eligibility criteria was widely publicised to all local media and via the Government’s social media platforms.
“As well, this information is on the government portal.
“We are aware that some people who did not meet the eligibility criteria slipped through the cracks and received a booster shot.
“All persons under 50 who have a scheduled appointment will receive an e-mail reminder of the eligibility criteria.
“As well, the booster portal pages have been updated with eligibility criteria.”
She added the essential and critical workers category included hospital staff, healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers, prison officers, utility workers, stevedores and teachers.
Chronic conditions include being overweight or obese, treatment for cancer, chronic kidney, lung, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, diabetes types 1 and 2, serious congenital diseases, people with weakened immune systems, stroke patients, people with substance use disorders and the homeless.
The spokeswoman said the ministry did not have the number of people under 50 who received the booster without being eligible or the number of people who were turned away after they had booked an appointment.
She said that 6,797 boosters had been administered by last Saturday.
The spokeswoman added: “The Covid-19 vaccine remains our best defence in preventing the spread of this virus.
“It will decrease symptoms and severe illness and, in most cases, prevent death.
“We encourage everyone who is currently eligible to book an appointment.”