Original Covid-19 herd immunity target reached as over-18s in line to get boosters
Bermuda has passed its original 70 per cent herd immunity target for vaccinations, the latest Government figures have revealed.
The Government website showed 70.2 per cent of the population had received two shots and 16.8 per cent had received a booster vaccine by last Saturday.
The Government said last year a figure of 70 per cent vaccination was the island’s goal to hit herd immunity against Covid-19 – the point where the coronavirus is no longer able to infect enough people to circulate freely.
It had been hoped to reach the 70 per cent target by May after the vaccination programme started in January.
But Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board Chief of Staff, warned in October that new variants of the coronavirus meant a higher level of immunisation would be needed to prevent Covid-19 from continuing to spread.
Carika Weldon, who heads the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, said in July that more than 87 per cent of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity from Covid-19 strains, including the Delta variant.
It was also revealed the booster jab was now available to those aged 18 and over.
Government figures showed people aged 0 to 49 have the lowest vaccination take-up with 59 per cent immunisation.
The highest level take up was in people aged over 80, where 87 per cent have been immunised.
The news came as restrictions in schools were relaxed as the education system moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, announced the news in a letter to school principals and administrators.
Pupils at primary 3 level and below will no longer have to wear face masks in the classroom.
Mr Rabain wrote: “While it was envisioned we would begin the school year in Phase 3, the number of positive cases heightened, which shifted schools into its current status of Phase 1.
“I am pleased to share that the Ministry of Health has advised schools can shift back to Phase 2.
“It is intended to review this phase in two weeks for a possible shift to Phase 3 at that time.
“The major difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2 is that students from P4/Gr3/Y4 to S4/Gr12/Y11 must always wear masks while indoors.
“Therefore, preschool and P1 to P3 students do not have to wear masks while indoors. This will take effect immediately.”
One parent complained about some elements of Phase 2, including a requirement for a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated children who have been abroad.
The parent said: “They seem to have set the benchmarks to change the phases at unrealistic levels.
“For anyone with a child above grade 3, the switch to Phase 2 really doesn't change anything. The clubs and activities available are still very limited.
“Also, it's frustrating that there is still a10-day quarantine for unvaccinated children post-travel.
“This was eight days last year, but there's no vaccine currently available here for kids under 12.”
The parent added: “It would be good to know the Government's plan to obtain the vaccine for children under 12.
“The US and Canada have approved it. Some parents are planning to get at least a first shot for their children in the US over the Christmas break.“
The Ministry of Health set Covid-19 rules for schools and introduced phased reopening at the start of the new school year.
Mr Rabain said: “This was due to the rising Covid cases in our community, including an increase in cases among children, which was occurring in other countries.
“The Delta variant was affecting children more than the previous variants and this raised the risk level for children as a group in our community.”
Vaccine booster appointments are available for over-18s who had their second dose more than six months ago.
The boosters are available for people aged 65 years or over by appointment or walk-in at Pier 6 and for people aged 18 to 64 years by appointment only.
The booster can be booked here, or by phone at 444-2498, option #2.
Vaccinations and boosters are also available at the Hamilton Health Centre, Victoria Street, on Tuesdays only from 2pm to 4pm by appointment only.
Click here to book a vaccine appointment at Hamilton Health Centre.