PM to be first to take COVID-19 vaccine once available in country

Pictured are Dr. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and at rear is Renward Wells, Minister of Health.

A vaccine for COVID-19 is on the horizon, and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Wednesday that as soon as it is available in the country, he will be one of the first to receive it.

The leader of the nation made the announcement, during his House of Assembly communication on Wednesday, November 18.

“I want to say to Bahamians that there are a lot of rumors about vaccines, etcetera, but be assured that whenever the vaccine is introduced into The Bahamas, I most certainly will be one of the first to receive the vaccine. Until that time, Mr. Speaker, we must keep up with our public health measures of mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing,” the prime minister said.

He defended his call for compliance with safety measures.

“Mr. Speaker, I hear the noise in the background, but I would hope to God that those individuals are wearing their masks.

“These measures work, Mr. Speaker. They are saving lives. The virus has caused restrictions and disruptions all over the world. The virus has slowed economic activity at different times and different degrees all over the world. Despite the difficulty at times I am confident that The Bahamas will overcome,” he added.

The prime minister said that most residents are largely complying with the public health measures.

“I thank them for following the public health measures. Our people, Mr. Speaker, are very resilient; our people are hardworking; and our people will get through this together.

“Mr. Speaker, we are progressing through the pandemic; there is increased hope that medical innovations are on the way to bring it to an end. In recent weeks, there were two encouraging announcements in The United States regarding vaccine candidates. Both vaccines demonstrated high levels of success in phase three trials.

“There is hope that medical frontline workers in The United States may begin to vaccinate as soon as next month. While we all should be pleased with this success, we must be very realistic with our timelines. It will take time before newly approved vaccines in the developed world become available in the developing world. We are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and others to secure vaccines for The Bahamas,” he added.

He noted that the Minister of Health (Renward Wells) and his team of health professionals are aggressively working on a national plan, so that residents will be prepared whenever the vaccine is available for The Bahamas.

Dr. Minnis said also that despite the debilitating impact COVID-19 has had on The Bahamas, Bahamians and residents alike should be proud of the steps the country has put in place from the onset of the disease, to mitigate against the spread of the deadly virus in the country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, but it has not broken our spirit to thrive and to prosper. The truth is that The Bahamas is much better than many countries in the world. It is truly sad and deeply unfortunate that some people aggressively oppose the most recent Emergency Orders passed in the House.

“The measures in the Orders, which are similar to measures throughout the world, helped to significantly bring down the number of cases and helped to save lives.

“On another occasion Mr. Speaker, I will have much more to say to those who oppose the extension of the Emergency Orders,” said the PM.

He pointed out that vaccines are emerging, there is light and hope on the horizon.

“Bahamians should remain focused and stay positive in their outlook. They should ignore those who are endlessly and predictably negative and those who always complain about The Bahamas, or root for failure. Instead, let us celebrate those who are helping our country get through this unprecedented time.

“The Bahamas is a great little country, with extraordinary people and many Bahamians are impressed about how our doctors, nurses, our medical professionals have cared for the sick. I am proud to say I belong to that noble profession of physicians.

“Many are impressed with how our businesses have helped to enforce the public health measures. I am impressed with the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that partnered with the government funded feeding program, to provide food for tens of thousands of Bahamians in need due to economic fallout of the pandemic, and who are now focusing strictly on the most vulnerable in our communities. To date, the Government of The Bahamas has spent approximately $18 million dollars on food assistance for our people.

“I want to thank the Task Force who has done an excellent job and the Ministry of Social Services, led by Minister Frankie Campbell, for the excellent job they have done in terms of delivering food, assisting our people.

“I am impressed with the new small business owners who are turning crisis into opportunity and hope for the future. We have to fight for our future together. We will give all a better future; our future will be better once we keep working together in a spirit of love and in a spirit of unity,” Dr. Minnis concluded.

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