Residents across Barbados, particularly young people and those who work in health care facilities, are being encouraged to come forward and be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, made this plea as he addressed a virtual COVID-19 press conference this evening, in the wake of Barbados recording a spike in cases over the last week.
There are presently 29 people in isolation with COVID-19, and most of the cases were identified from two family clusters and a manufacturing business.
However, Dr. George gave the assurance that the appropriate contact tracing was being done, and there were over 100 persons, mainly primary contacts, in quarantine hotels across Barbados awaiting their second test.
“We, again, ask the public for your cooperation, because we have been on this path before. And I tell you sincerely that we can get out of this situation, but we need your help,” he said.
Dr. George urged those not yet vaccinated to identify themselves, so the Ministry could assist them in receiving the vaccination.
There are presently over 94,000 persons living in Barbados who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about 69,000 persons who have had their second dose and are fully vaccinated.
“This is good, but we need to improve on this. And there are some special groups I would like to encourage to come forward to make sure that they are vaccinated.
“These are individuals who work in our healthcare facilities across Barbados, whether it be the geriatric hospitals, the Psychiatric Hospital, or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I sincerely encourage you to be vaccinated, to protect not only yourselves, the staff around you, but in particular, the clients that you service,” the Chief Medical Officer pleaded.
He explained that at some health care institutions the vaccination level was as low as 35 per cent, or as high as 60 per cent, but the ideal target was 70 per cent.
Dr. George said the Ministry was presently conducting an audit to see who was vaccinated and the type of staff vaccinated. “We will continue to work with individuals,” he assured.
He added that it was also important to increase the level of persons vaccinated within the younger age groups as the age range of persons presenting with COVID-19 was a bit younger at this point in time.
Dr. George said Government was working to ensure that the required vaccinations were available. He noted that the island had already received two sets of vaccines through the COVAX Facility after starting off with 100,000 vaccines through a donation from the Government of India.
In addition, he noted that the Sinopharm vaccine was expected to arrive in the island shortly.
“What we are trying to do … is to make sure that Barbadians have options for vaccinations, and there will be many other vaccines here in short order, with respect to the choices that they will have,” Dr. George stated.