Persons waiting their turn to be vaccinated at the Globe Drive-In. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

With over 14,000 persons having received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since the start of the National Vaccination Programme, authorities are confident Barbados is on target to having a significant percentage of its population protected against severe illness caused by the virus.

That is according to the National Coordinator of the programme, Major David Clarke, who was speaking during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, at the drive-through clinic set up at the Globe Drive-In today. This was just one of the vaccination clinics set up across the island.

Describing the response from the public as “overwhelming”, he reminded persons that at present, efforts were focused on vaccinating the most vulnerable in society.

“In the process, we have set up a number of categories. We did the frontline workers first.  Now we’re doing the over 70s. The next category we will start on Monday is the 18 to 69 age group who have chronic non-communicable diseases, and are recommended by the medical committee,” he explained.

Major Clarke also addressed concerns raised by members of the public about having not received their vaccination appointments although they had registered.

“I must apologise to the public for the first couple days when we had some issues where the appointment system was not working as it should, but certainly we got that sorted. So people, don’t think because we have not called them, they have been left out. It’s based on the number of people in the age categories that come forward. The vaccinations are voluntary …. We looked at each of the numbers of people in each electoral district. So, if they’re 21,000 people over 75; if they’re 44,000 people 65 and above, we looked at that and then did the scheduling. Then the issue is, we can’t give you an appointment because it is based on the numbers coming, so we will call you when your turn comes,” he said.

He added that the appointment system would continue to be used to administer vaccines “until we get to a stage where we have done all of the vulnerable people and then we would probably move to an open system”. It was against this background that Major Clarke urged persons to be patient.

Speaking on operations at the Globe Drive-in clinic, he indicated that inoculations there ran smoothly. “You drive up; you are first entered into our medical records database. You then drive under a tent, where you receive your vaccination. You then receive your immunisation card, which is stamped and signed by the Health Sister vaccinating you. And then you move on to the Shape App tent, where a person records your information, and enters you into the Shape App database. Finally, you have to spend 15 minutes being observed to ensure there is no reaction and then you’re free to go,” he explained.

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