The number of people in Barbados getting their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine daily would have to nearly double for the island to reach the target of having 70 per cent of the population fully vaccinated by June.
This was revealed during a webinar hosted on Wednesday by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) entitled, Ending the Acute Stage of the Pandemic in 2022: The state of COVID-19 response in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC).
Dr Yitades Gebre, the PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the ECC, said it was necessary for countries in the region to reach the 70 per cent threshold.
He said reducing and controlling the incidences and occurrences of COVID-19 infection, optimising national and international strategies and preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 were critical.
“Our first goal is to make sure that by the end of June this year, 70 per cent of the population in all countries have to be vaccinated. By doing this nationally and internationally we can bring the change which is needed on health, the economy, the politics and human rights also,” Dr Gebre pointed out.
However, PAHO’s Family and Community Health Advisor for Barbados and the ECC, Dr Darlene Omeir-Taylor said most countries in the region would have to make tremendous strides if they were to reach the goal of having 70 per cent of their populations fully vaccinated.
She said statistics that showed that only 50.9 per cent of Barbados’ population was fully vaccinated as of January 24. The statistics released by the Government Information Service on the same date put that figure at 54.1.
Dr Omeir-Taylor further revealed that daily, about 184 persons were getting their second dose in Barbados.
She pointed out that for this island to achieve the 70 per cent goal by mid-year, it would have to almost double that daily number to 350.
The PAHO health advisor said at the current rate, Barbados would achieve the target in the next 298 days, way past the June 30 target date.
She suggested that the main focus should be on providing primary vaccinations.
“We need to increase the primary vaccinations coverage rate. We know many countries are now pushing boosters, but what we are seeing is that once we reach a higher coverage of the primary vaccination it has had a greater impact on reducing hospitalisation and death than increasing the booster dose coverage,” Dr Omeir-Taylor said.
She said as of January 21, children between the ages of 5-11 were now approved to take the Pfizer vaccine.
However, she noted, it was not the same vaccine being used for adults as it had a different formulation and dosage. (RB)