Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley wants at least 10,000 people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 every week for the next five weeks, which she said would determine when curfews and other restrictions would be eased and eventually lifted.
Addressing the nation on Saturday, Mottley said if vaccinations pick up to the level she wants, Barbados would be much closer to herd immunity.
Currently, just under 6,500 persons are being vaccinated in Barbados weekly, and while saying she was happy to see an increasing number of people coming forward to be vaccinated, she urged more Barbadians to get inoculated.
“We are trending in the right direction, but the overall rate does need still some pumping up; it is still a little bit too low,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
“Let us agree to aim to get as close to 10,000 persons per week being vaccinated…. If we can do that, and we can maintain that each week for the next five weeks, then we will have the majority of those persons fully vaccinated before the end of November, before Independence Day [November 30] and Christmas, such that we may as a country, consider then the options of significant review and removal of restrictions that we have in place…. There will then be a clear and justifiable case for the Government to take to the doctors and the public health specialists, that will allow us to gradually remove the restrictions.”
Barbados is currently under a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew Mondays to Saturdays, and a 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Sundays.
The Prime Minister stressed, however, that with any removal of restrictions, members of the public would still have to wear masks, sanitise and engage in physical distancing.
Noting that the six people who have died from COVID-19 this past week were unvaccinated, Mottley pleaded: “Help us by protecting yourselves, by taking the vaccinations.”
“There is a small percentage… of seven percent, who are likely to have the breakthrough cases among the vaccinated people, but if we catch them early as well we can ensure that none of them go the way of the others who regrettably have gone to the great beyond,” she added, reiterating her view that the COVID-19 pandemic is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
Health authorities recently started a mobile vaccination drive and the Prime Minister said that has been reaping success.
She noted that the pop-up vaccination sites in the community had made a “clear and visible difference” and that discussions were held earlier this week about increasing the number of locations.
Mottley further disclosed that some private sector entities had asked if their premises could be used for some of the community pop-ups and those discussions were ongoing.
Training for private medical doctors who will be administering COVID-19 vaccines began Sunday.
Prime Minister Mottley also told the nation that she wanted to get and distribute oximeters to a number of households across the country, so persons could test the proportion of oxygenated haemoglobin in their blood, so they would present to health officials earlier for diagnosis and treatment.
So far, about 125,000 people have received at least their first jab of one of the three vaccines available – AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm.