A senior official of the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Tuesday said that Barbados could achieve its target of 40 percent vaccination of its population against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by the end of September and maintain a 60 percent immune population by 2022.
Barbados received its third and final batch of 33,600 coronavirus AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
PAHO/WHO representative Dr Yitades Gebre, said the island is one of the more positive stories in the Caribbean.
“Approximately 351 million people have completed their vaccination schedule in the Americas with 44 percent from Latin America and the Caribbean (but) only 22.2 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean have actually completed their vaccination schedule,” Gebre said, adding that “there is good news in progress in Barbados, where one in three persons are fully vaccinated with the vaccination coverage increasing by twofold since May.
“If vaccines are widely available and accepted by the most skeptical and hesitant of the population, Barbados should achieve the target of 40 per cent by the end of September and maintain a 60 per cent immune population (by) 2022,” he added.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley told the ceremony that vaccines were an integral step in the battle against the COVID-19 but masks, physical distancing and keeping hands clean and sanitised were also important.
She warned Barbadians to maintain their guards against the virus, noting that those who complain of becoming tired of keeping to the protocols risk becoming a statistic.
Prime Minister Mottley said Barbados could not have gotten to this point on its own and neither could government win the fight against COVID-19 without public support.
She also urged the United Nations to ensure it embraces all countries as they headed into the climate change conference, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
“I pray as the UN meets, we will find it in us to recognize that unless we can secure the weakest nation-state and the farthest populations of the earth, we are going to be here, regrettably, for a few more years. It makes no sense us going to Glasgow in November if we are going to lose the battle against the COVID pandemic,” she said.
Health Minister Jeffrey Bostic expressed gratitude to COVAX and GAVI, saying Barbadians now had three choices for their first vaccine.
Representatives of the European Union, United States, Japan, Britain, Canada and the United Nations (UN) were present for the arrival of the vaccines.
Meanwhile, Barbados has recorded 26 new COVID-19 cases including 14 males.
The authorities said that the confirmed cases of the virus have reached 4,694 since the start of the pandemic in March last year. The death toll from the viral illness is 48. There are now166 people in isolation.
Under the National Vaccination Programme for COVID-19, 103,822 first doses of the vaccine have been administered. The number of people who have received second doses and are fully vaccinated is 91,186. This figure represents 33.6 percent of the population.