Press conference by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training – April 21, 2022. (PMO)

A Vaccination Bus is set to be rolled out by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, come next school term.

This was shared by Education Minister, Kay McConney during today’s virtual press conference that addressed the return to face-to-face school in Term III. 

Noting that her Ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to ensure the vaccination bus would be deployed to schools to assist in raising the level of vaccination, she told media representatives the vaccination rate was a matter raised by those who offered feedback to the Ministry.

Minister McConney, who urged parents to sign their children up for vaccination, explained that it was also important in allowing the Ministry to plan.  

“If we know that there are 50 students at School X, who will be requiring vaccines and there are 30 more here and there are 100 over there, we are better able to deploy resources and to ensure that we have the adequate materials and the adequate supplies to be able to service you and that we can schedule in an appropriate manner,” she stated.

The Minister added: “The vaccination rate for eligible students from what I am told, that is for 12 years and over, I am told is in the vicinity of about 50.7 per cent and we would like as a Ministry to see that go higher. Our scientists and our advisers are telling us that indeed the vaccine offers another layer of protection and we would wish to be able to encourage all persons to add as many layers as they can to their own responsible safety protocol.”

Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, echoing similar sentiments indicated that procedures had been appropriately put in place for the roll out of the bus with the Ministry seeking to vaccinate only students for whom permission is granted by parents or guardians.

Making an appeal to those whose children have not yet been vaccinated, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw, said: “Of course we have disseminated, through the principals, an electronic form that we are asking parents to complete. Parents, if you have not seen that form, please go into your children’s inbox, the Gmail inboxes, and locate that form because, as the Minister says, the vaccine offers an extra, extra layer of protection and it would be a good thing for your children to receive the vaccination.”

Meanwhile, queried about the response thus far, she told media representatives: “ I must say that the response rate to the vaccination form is relatively high, so far. I checked about two hours ago and I saw about 130 names of students across schools. So, I believe that after this press conference we will have an increase in the number of names because parents should now be aware that they have to check the inboxes of their children for that form so that they can put their children’s names down.”

The Ministry official, who further pointed out that the vaccine bus would be deployed as soon as possible, stressed however, that neither the Medical Officer of Health nor the nurse would be vaccinating any child without parental consent. And, she reiterated that if parents wanted children to be vaccinated, they must make sure to sign them up.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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