Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, taking a closer look at the 12-seater Nissan Urvan which was donated to his Ministry by the Pan American Health Organization this morning. (S. Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

PAHO/WHO Representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Yitades Gebre, today revealed that “Barbados is one of the first countries to take action and deposit funds for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine”.

And, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, in speaking to the readiness of Barbados to administer the vaccine once received, stated that although a deposit of $1.2 million was made through the COVAX Facility, there is still much work to be executed before the vaccine could be offered to the public of Barbados. 

The facility is a partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and its immunisation revolving fund, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

“We have started the process of developing the mechanisms to be able to deal with the execution now of the delivery of vaccines when they become available. That in itself is a massive undertaking requiring a lot of planning. A lot of logistics and also a lot of communications with the public to be able to get persons in Barbados to understand the importance of taking the vaccine.

“And we are not doing this blindly, because we have a very proud history of executing a very efficient and effective immunisation programme in this country for decades, which really has redounded to the benefit of young Barbadians who are now adults, and we will continue to operate in that vein, with the delivery of the COVID vaccine,” Minister Bostic explained.

Acknowledging that there is an anti-vaccine movement worldwide, he noted that over the years Barbados has had around an 84 per cent success rate in implementing vaccines and due diligence and research is being carried out on the vaccine, so that when offered to the public, people can accept it knowing that there is nothing wrong with taking it.  “As a soldier I lead by example, so I will take the vaccine, and I’ll do that publicly,” Lt. Col. Bostic stated.

He revealed that the deposit made towards acquiring the vaccine guarantees Barbados, in the first instance, enough vaccines to cover 20 per cent of the population, and the decision as to how it would be administered would be made at the highest level. 

He said the Ministry of Health and Wellness would make its recommendation from a health perspective, but noted other national factors would be taken into account.

The Minister also disclosed that the Ministry would be bringing in some additional resources to assist in its efforts to roll out the vaccine, and once plans have been finalised, the Ministry “will come to the people of Barbados to explain exactly how that process is going to be rolled out”. 

He thanked PAHO for its continuous assistance in helping the country in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“And we look forward to working with you (PAHO), especially as we approach now the era of COVID-19 vaccines, how best we can acquire those vaccines, and what we need to do to be able to deliver the vaccines to the people of Barbados,” Lt. Col. Bostic stated.

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