Press conference with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley featuring Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt Col. Jeffrey Bostic – September 13, 2021. (PMO)

Barbados’ new COVID-19 Public Advisor, David Ellis believes that providing credible, readily available information about COVID-19 and vaccines, is key to mitigating Barbados’ fight against the pandemic.

Mr. Ellis shared this view, as well as his proposed plans for his new role as COVID-19 Public Advisor, during a press conference this afternoon at Ilaro Court.

Mr. Ellis, who has over four-decades of experience as a radio journalist, stated that he would be working with everyone across the board, including Opposition Leader, Bishop Joseph Atherely and Democratic Labour Party leader, Verla DePeiza, in addressing the provision of credible information about COVID-19, that will aid the country in its fight against this pandemic.

“The most important task of all, has to be one of trying to deal with the fact that we have so many people out there who are unvaccinated, and who need to be convinced that it is important and necessary. I think now it is not just a question of vaccination, but we are expected to follow the protocols as well. I think the message has got to be a combination of those and that will be priority number one,” he maintained.

The new COVID-19 Public Advisor also suggested that providing counselling at vaccination sites is another strategy that could be used to address vaccine hesitancy.

“One of the things that has occurred to me, is that if we have been so encouraged by taking the vaccines into the communities, it may be useful to take some counsellors into the communities as well.  So you vaccinate some, and you talk to some, because obviously this thing is working, but that’s only one solution,” Mr. Ellis stated.

In addition, he pointed out that Barbadians have done a “good job” so far in following the protocols, however, with the number of cases linked to the Delta variant, it has shown there has been some complacency. 

Therefore, Mr. Ellis has suggested the use of behavioural studies to assist in determining the messages needed to keep Barbadians focused and constantly aware going forward.

“We’re not here to beat you about your head, we’re not here to blame you, but to encourage those of you who are hesitant and uncertain, that we want to work with you towards the goal of trying to minimise the damage that can be done by COVID, and that I see as a critical part of my remit to reach out to various groups in this country, to hear from you, to get your ideas, to correct the things that you believe are wrong, …and those that have been right to improve upon them,” the COVID-19 Public Advisor emphasised.

He also proposed the use of behavioural specialists, as well as a combination of surveys, to assist in guiding and developing COVID-19 messages going forward.  These strategies along with others, he disclosed, will all form part of the medium to long-term plans in Barbados’s fight against COVID-19.  

sheena.forde-craigg@barbados.gov.bb

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