Pfizer vaccine now due to arrive in Bermuda in January
The first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines is not expected to arrive in Bermuda until early next month, the health minister said yesterday.
Kim Wilson told the House of Assembly that Bermuda was expected to receive more than 9,000 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from the British government in the first week of January.
David Burt, the Premier, later said “off the top of his head” that there would be 9,750 doses, enough for 4,875 people as the vaccine needed two doses to be effective.
Ms Wilson said earlier said the Government had hoped to have the first doses in Bermuda in mid-December.
She added that the vaccine must be stored in extremely low temperatures, but the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences had loaned a freezer suitable for the vaccines.
Ms Wilson said the Government had also sought vaccines through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Geneva which administers the Covax Facility.
She added: “Bermuda has joined the Covax Facility and has purchased enough doses to cover 20 per cent of our population.
“The leading vaccines likely to be received by Bermuda are those by AstraZeneca and Moderna.
“An advantage of the AstraZeneca vaccine is that it does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures – it is compatible with our existing vaccine fridges.”
Ms Wilson said: “The time frame for receipt of these vaccines through the Covax Facility is not yet settled.”
She added that the ministry expected to get further further vaccine supplies from both sources.
Ms Wilson emphasised that vaccinations would be voluntary, but the Government wanted at least 60 per cent of the population vaccinated.
She added it was probable that the travel industry would require proof of vaccinations from people who wanted to travel.
Ms Wilson said: “The International Air Transport Association has already started to create a vaccine passport for pilots and crew of airlines and, as part of their future plans, vaccine passports for travellers will be included.
“While travel is certainly a strong incentive to be vaccinated, the initial implementation of the vaccine in Bermuda will be linked to protecting our country's most vulnerable citizens.
“It will also focus on giving immunisation to those persons who are caregivers and medical professionals in intimate contact with clients and patients on a daily basis in our healthcare institutions and care homes.”
Ms Wilson added that the focus of the first round of vaccinations would also target the most the vulnerable, such as care home residents.
She added: “Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough.
“Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
“The combination of getting vaccinated and following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines on how best to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from Covid-19.”
But Ms Wilson said it had not yet been decided if the public would have to pay for the vaccines.
She added: “When that determination is made, I will make it public and present it to the House.”