Barbados today received the first of three shipments of the Pfizer vaccine from the US Government. And, acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw said the 70,200 doses of the vaccine would allow the country to take fresh guard in its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a handing-over ceremony at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Ms. Bradshaw thanked the US Government, saying the donation was timely and very much appreciated.
“I trust that this gift today, for which we are truly grateful, represents the rekindling of a Barbados-United States relationship, indeed, a CARICOM-United States relationship, that is far more representative of what we once enjoyed. Madame Ambassador, the Government of Barbados looks forward to working with you and the Biden Administration in order to achieve this.”
The acting Prime Minister stressed that the donation provided Barbados with an opportunity to reinject some momentum into its vaccination programme. She underscored the importance of citizens having options, so they could have a vaccine preference.
“It is not just about acquiring a vaccine. It is about ensuring that small countries like ours have access to a variety of vaccines. For while we talk so much about vaccine hesitancy, we cannot ignore the fact that in many cases individuals are not necessarily against the vaccine per se, but also want to have a choice as to which vaccine they should take. And to date, this has only been possible in Barbados in a limited way. Today, we are pleased to say we have options.
“Achieving the herd immunity that we seek will be influenced by the ability of the consumer to choose the vaccine with which he or she is comfortable. That is a natural offshoot of people taking the opportunity to educate themselves on the subject. The Government of Barbados will continue to work with our partners and our friends to try to provide Barbadians with alternatives,” she stated.
Ms. Bradshaw said officials were still of the view that being vaccinated was the most effective way of fighting the virus. She noted that Government must be active on every front because the country’s development trajectory had been fundamentally altered by the pandemic. Therefore, she added, Government could not sit passively and hope for a turn-around, but had to act.
She stressed that the achievement of people’s dreams and their aspirations were inextricably linked to getting the economy firing again on all cylinders as soon as possible. She continued: “The next few months are going to be critical for us, but today, with this donation, we can take fresh guard in this battle against COVID-19. A battle that is ours to win if we move forward together.”
The acting Prime Minister noted that the pandemic had strained the resources of almost every single nation across the globe, with the impact being different on each country. She said Barbados had done well in managing the spread of the virus, but it was nowhere near where it should be at this time.
“Had we been living in a world where fairness and equity underpinned how we dealt with each other, things would no doubt have looked far different than they do now,” she opined.
Ms. Bradshaw indicated that tourism-dependent economies were hit hard by the virus and they were still struggling to get back on their feet.