Barbados’ frontline workers are expected to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine “in the very near future”.
The first batch of vaccines is expected to target 50,000 frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, those who work with medical facilities or provide other essential services to the country, police and hotel and supermarket workers.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made this announcement today during an address to the nation from Ilaro Court, during which she said Barbados had received a commitment from India for 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We have given a commitment, and Cabinet has agreed that the first beneficiaries must be the frontline workers. Frontline workers go from the medical… I mean anybody working in critical medical establishments …. We also mean the police and the national security forces of the country and critical/essential services that keep the country going,” she said.
However, Ms. Mottley noted that it did not mean that every single employee within an agency or department would receive the vaccine at this time.
In addition, she stated that it was anticipated that the 50,000 persons would include the island’s elderly and most vulnerable populations, with officials at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, through the polyclinics, being tasked with identifying those with multiple co-morbidities.
The Prime Minister explained that at this time Government was finalising the logistics of the arrangements, and more details would be given as the process moved forward.
“We are, therefore, going to be working assiduously to get more vaccines because we recognise that aggressive testing, aggressive vaccinations, aggressive communication, these are the things that are going to help bring us back,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley publicly expressed her thanks to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, for assisting with the donation and purchase of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Prime Minister Mottley also noted that the COVID Communications Unit would be conducting public education and sensitisation as it relates to vaccines in the coming weeks.
She said Government was conscious of the fact that there were a number of people ready to receive the vaccine, but at the same time, there were others who continued to have concerns.