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Delayed bivalent vaccine set for rollout

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Pharmacists and paediatricians are expected to start administering the in-demand Moderna coronavirus vaccine next week — more than a month after it arrived on the island.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that clearance was provided last week to retrieve ten doses from each 5ml vial.

Information supplied to the Government earlier related to smaller containers with a limit on how many times each can be used.

A 5,500-dose shipment of vaccines arrived in Bermuda from Britain on the British Airways flight on September 21.

It included the original adult and paediatric versions of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as well as the Moderna bivalent vaccine — one of the few boosters that targets new Covid-19 variants.

The Ministry of Health told residents last week that the vaccines were “available through participating GP offices, pharmacies and paediatricians”.

Two pharmacists told The Royal Gazette on Monday that they had not yet or only just received a patient group directions document, which must be reviewed and signed before they can administer the drug.

Some other healthcare providers on a Bermuda Health Council list of those expected to offer Covid-19 vaccinations — including Bermuda Healthcare Services, Northshore Medical and Somers Medical Services — also said this week that they were yet to receive stocks of Moderna.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said last night: "The Moderna vaccine supplied to Bermuda is the 5ml Spikevax bivalent vaccine.

“This is different from the literature that was supplied for 2.5ml vials that restrict the number of times we can puncture the stopper.

“We received clearance last week from the manufacturer to get ten doses from each vial.”

She added: “The Department of Health has been receiving requisitions from GPs for Covid-19 vaccines, they have been compiling the orders, and they will send out the appropriate guidance for the distribution of the vaccines tomorrow.

“While most demand is for the Moderna bivalent vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine is available through some pharmacies and GP offices.

“The patient group directions for the Moderna bivalent will be distributed today to those interested pharmacies. It is anticipated that they will start distributing the Moderna bivalent next week.

“The island’s paediatrician offices are ordering vaccines this week and expect to begin vaccinations next week.

“Of note, some doctors’ offices do not want to publicise that they are giving the coronavirus vaccine, reserving it for their patients only.”

The spokeswoman said: “Persons wanting to get the Covid-19 vaccine should contact their doctor and request it.

“Those uninsured persons or persons on HIP or FutureCare can get the vaccine at the Hamilton Health Centre once a vaccination schedule has been confirmed.”

Melissa Levy, a pharmacist at the Diabetes Association Pharmacy, said on Monday: “We have to have the PGD document and we haven’t received the one for Moderna as yet, so can’t administer that one until we receive that document.”

The NHS England website explained that PGDs set out a framework that allowed some health professionals to supply or administer certain medicines without patients having to see a prescriber, such as a doctor.

Kerri Grant, a pharmacist at Hamilton Pharmacy, added: “We have, as pharmacists, to sign a PGD. That will authorise all pharmacists to administer the vaccine.

“Once that document has been presented to us by Government and it’s signed by us, we can administer it.”

She said on Monday: “They have submitted it just today … it’s via e-mail and we have to review it.”

Governor Rena Lalgie, right, assessed a batch of Covid-19 vaccines which arrived on a British Airways flight in September (Photograph supplied)

Governor Rena Lalgie, who was on the same flight as the vaccine shipment in September, said at the time: “I am delighted that the UK has been able to provide this 14th shipment of Covid vaccines to Bermuda in order to support the efforts of the Government of Bermuda’s vaccination strategy, at no cost to Bermuda.

“The UK remains committed to helping facilitate access to vaccinations and medication that Bermuda needs.”

A Government House spokeswoman said this week: “The UK Government continues to support the Government of Bermuda’s vaccination strategy and Government House remains in close contact with the Ministry of Health on this issue”

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Published October 26, 2022 at 8:09 am (Updated October 26, 2022 at 12:39 pm)

Delayed bivalent vaccine set for rollout

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