The Government of Barbados is set to receive another shipment of Pfizer vaccines from the United States.
Speaking during a recent press conference, Prime Minister Mia Mottley – who pleaded with Barbadians to get vaccinated said the second shipment of 70,000 doses is scheduled to arrive early next month.
“I’m happy to report to the country that having met with Vice President Harris last week, that her National Security Adviser communicated with my Permanent Secretary yesterday morning …. the next tranche of vaccines will come the week of November 7,” Mottley said.
Expressing her gratitude to the US Government, the Prime Minister noted that this would put the country in a good position, as it seeks to vaccinate as many persons as possible against the highly contagious virus.
Over 146,000 persons, including children aged 12 to 18, have been inoculated to date.
She reemphasized that while vaccination was strongly encouraged, her administration would not be making it mandatory.
“The bottom line is that for whatever reason, there are people who cannot take it, either because of medical reasons, or serious philosophical reasons. In those circumstances, we are saying that we accept that the only way to the destination is not vaccines; we accept that testing can also give us an idea of safety, but we know it is cumbersome…. That is where we talk about the safe zones.
Stating that there were consultations with health care workers and managers of health care institutions and nursing homes, she revealed that a draft document had been completed on safe zones and sent to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
“It is our anticipation that we will be in a position to have that safe zone in health care institutions … by the first of November operational,” she added.
Safe zones were also on the cards for other frontline workers, namely police, prison officers, soldiers, customs officers and those who work in the Tourism and Hospitality industry.
The Prime Minister also expressed optimism about more persons coming forward to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.
“We can do this together willingly as opposed to us having to take drastic measures as a Government that will affect both the righteous and the unrighteous, that will affect the working and the not working, that will affect the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. I am satisfied that in the same way we were able to achieve almost 45,000 vaccinations in the last two months, that we can in the next four to eight weeks achieve the same 45,000 vaccinations,” Ms. Mottley said.
Focusing on the tourism sector, she highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the island’s main economic earner.
“The bottom line also is that for the majority of the last 20 months, we have seen an excess of a 90 percent decline in the persons visiting. We know that it affects us because you’ve seen from the farmers to the manufacturers, to the retailers, complaining that business is down, largely because we do not have enough people on the island eating, drinking, and moving around and doing the things that are necessary to keep us going.”
The Prime Minister also responded to calls for further restrictions to be implemented, noting that such an approach would be detrimental to the economy and the overall health of the country.