Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s address to the nation – February 25, 2021. (PMO)

Just over 29,000 persons across Barbados have received the COVID-19 vaccine to date, about 14 per cent of the island’s population.

And, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has commended the increasing number of persons who wish to receive the vaccine, noting that such interest was critical to the full reopening of the country’s economy.

She made these announcements tonight as she addressed the nation to provide an update on the island’s COVID-19 situation and a partial reopening of the economy from Monday, March 1.

At the same time, Ms. Mottley said there were “a number of irons in the fire” to secure vaccines for Barbados. And, she indicated, once they arrived as scheduled, all persons “wanting” to be vaccinated would be given the opportunity to do so before the beginning of May.

Ms. Mottley noted that 29,186 vaccinations were given, as of February 25, just over two weeks since the first shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Barbados, as a gift from the Government of India.

She also noted that by weekend, a group of doctors would be going into communities and homes to vaccinate those who were either too ill to travel, too ill to take the risk, or who were immobile.

“We are literally planning to ensure that they (the doctors) have the appropriate equipment and oxygen and everything else that they need, and the training that they need to participate in the SHAPE app, or any other software programmes that are critical to measure how we perform,” the Prime Minister disclosed.

She added that this weekend would also mark the homestretch for the administering of the first round of vaccines, as Government continues to make progress with its National Vaccine Programme.

A frontline worker receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the island’s National Vaccination Campaign. (FP)

She further noted that a special session was being hosted for approximately 100 police officers on Saturday, who now wanted to receive the vaccine, while over 150 fishermen and fish vendors had also indicated an interest.

Ms. Mottley added that the team had also reached out to the Barbados Christian Council and the Barbados Evangelical Council because priests were among those on the frontline.

However, she stressed that it was not mandatory for persons to receive the vaccine, but cautioned that the world was moving towards a point where people’s choices and movements would be limited in the absence of vaccines.

“The reality of the world in which we live now today has for decades required persons to produce vaccination cards, showing that you have protected yourself against certain diseases, before you can enter certain countries. And let us not talk about students going to study overseas or persons applying for a green card….

“And we are already seeing signs in the world that if you want to do certain things that people are requiring more and more evidence of vaccination. So, while we are not making it mandatory, we are also going to be very clear in explaining to our population, how the world is moving, and the extent to which people’s movements and choices will be limited in the absence of vaccinations,” the Prime Minister cautioned.

Ms. Mottley acknowledged that there were “difficulties” with the appointment system and persons having to wait in long lines to be vaccinated, and apologised for the inconvenience. 

She said efforts were under way to improve the appointment system with the launch of a new app next week.

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