Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic is making a fresh promise that he will be taking his second COVID-19 jab in public.
This comes less than a week after it was revealed by Prime Minister Mia Mottley that she, along with Bostic, Attorney General Dale Marshall and five frontline medical personnel received their first vaccination.
Mottley said then that the group would receive their second dose “in a few weeks’ time”.
However, since then, residents have been raising concerns regarding why none of the first vaccine recipients had taken the “jab” for the country to see, even after Bostic himself had indicated that he was willing to take it in public.
Asked by Barbados TODAY on Tuesday to respond to those concerns, Bostic simply said it was not done in public because of an “issue”, which he opted not to disclose.
However, the health minister, who has already urged Barbadians not to fear taking the COVID-19 vaccination, promised he would be taking his second dose for all to see.
“There was an issue in relation to taking the first jab in public, but I assure you the second one will be done in public,” Bostic promised.
“Without going into details, I am going to tell you how things can be at times. Last year March when we were scrambling to get handheld thermometers to do temperature checks, we were able to get some from a ‘friendly government’ but we could not go public at that time because if something is required in another country there are some sensitivities when it comes to supplies leaving.
“So in order to protect persons, it is not always possible to do things publicly. But I give you the assurance and I can tell you that the vaccines were taken and the second dose, whenever that is due, you can be sure that is going to be public,” explained Bostic.
He was speaking after receiving a fresh donation of critical equipment from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to assist the country in the fight against the coronavirus.
Officials have already predicted that Barbados could get its first set of vaccine through the COVAX Facility by the end of March or early April.
During the brief handing over ceremony, at the PAHO office in Dayrell’s Road, St Michael, Dr Yitades Gebre, PAHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, hinted that the vaccine could reach Bridgetown as early as next month.
Pointing out that there was a meeting with officials of the COVAX Facility on Tuesday morning, he said: “At this point, the COVAX Facility has agreements for six different types of vaccines from five providers.
“The first transit is expected somewhere late February or early March from the COVAX Facility,” said Gebre.
It is expected that countries benefiting from the COVAX Facility will get enough vaccine to inoculate at least 20 per cent of their population, but it will be spread out over the year.
Pointing out that some countries could be in line to get some of the Pfizer doses by next week or early February, Gebre said it was critical that countries display readiness, indemnification and an ability to administer the vaccine.
Gebre, like World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed concern that some countries were beginning to hoard vaccine and this could hurt poorer countries.
Prime Minister Mottley has already indicated that Barbados was going beyond the COVAX Facility to get vaccinations that would be enough to result in herd immunity in Barbados.
The online resource WebMD says herd immunity or community immunity exists, when a large part of the population of an area is immune to a specific disease. If enough people are resistant to the cause of a disease, such as a virus, it has nowhere to go.
The PM said in addition to possible assistance through the African Medical Supplies platform, her team was currently working feverishly to get access to vaccines from several suppliers.
Government is expected to embark on a campaign in the coming weeks to raise awareness and encourage people to take the vaccine when it becomes available.