The National Vaccination Fund has received over $10.6 million since it was set up earlier this year.
This disclosure came on Tuesday from Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, after he received cash injections from three institutions that put the Fund at $10,646,596.31.
He added that members of the public who wanted to make contributions to the Fund or any other COVID-19 activity should contact the Ministry of Finance.
Managing Director of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Donna Wellington, donated $389,800; Managing Director/CEO of Republic Bank, Anthony Clerk, presented $250,000 and Vice President of the Shipping Association of Barbados, Simone Phillips, handed over a cheque for $25,000.
Mr. Straughn thanked the representatives of the institutions for the significant and timely contributions. Explaining the importance of the funds, he said: “The money allows us as the Government of Barbados to continue to roll out not just the vaccine programme, but continue to mount what has been an extraordinary effort to fight this global pandemic… These vaccination efforts allow us to get back to work and some level of normality as quickly as possible….
“The effort is ongoing with respect to being able to not just respond to the public health management of the pandemic, but certainly to enhance our social protection mechanisms, which receipts like these allow us then to divert funds which we have had to put in place to be able to cover not just vaccines but the equipment and what is required to administer and coordinate that.”
Mr. Straughn said Government would acquire enough vaccines to inoculate residents, but the supply was not there. “We have done well so far with what we have, but we are working feverishly to ensure that we can get as much available vaccines as quickly as possible, so that we can achieve herd immunity,” he stated.
Noting that there was still vaccine hesitancy from some Barbadians, the Minister encouraged them to consult their doctors on the matter.
“We have all been vaccinated…through the Ministry of Health and Wellness over the years, and therefore at this very critical time, each decision that we take as individuals will have an impact on what happens nationally,” he indicated.
He urged members of the public to maintain the protocols at all times, saying that would assist in keeping the economy open.
Suggesting that the vaccination programme was seen as the turning point, Mr. Clerk encouraged other business people and individuals who had the capacity, to donate to the Fund.
“We feel that the vaccine donation is extremely important to Barbados because, as far as we are concerned, it is how we can start to get out of this malaise that we are in and return to some semblance of normalcy to get the economy back on its feet; to get the tourism back on its feet and we start to go back to our normal lives, whatever that may look like,” he said.
The Managing Director said Barbados had done well in the procuring and rolling out of vaccines and commended the officials, including the Minister of Health.
Ms. Wellington said CIBC FirstCaribbean was pleased to support the vaccination effort in Barbados and she encouraged citizens to follow the protocols.
“We also want to encourage the vaccination effort individually; we want to encourage each Barbadian to seek to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” the Managing Director urged.
Vice President of the Shipping Association of Barbados, Simone Phillips, said the organisation recognised the importance of the Fund and was keen to contribute to the cause.
“We know that the fight is nowhere near over and we wanted to assist in some way in this fight as we look forward to the Government of Barbados continuing the excellent job they have done in working towards protecting the people of Barbados against this formidable enemy,” Ms. Phillips stated.
So far, 76,000 vaccinations have been administered, with just over 45,000 being second doses. The eligible population for vaccination is just under 200,000.