Prime Minister Minnis announces COVID-19 vaccine priority groups and rollout strategy for New Providence, Grand Bahama and Family Islands

Healthcare workers, people over the age of 65, uniformed branch members and frontline workers will be among the first priority groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on New Providence and Grand Bahama, said Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Critical workers in high-risk settings and other essential service workers will also be included among the first groups, said the Prime Minister in an update on the country’s vaccination plans and strategy, on Sunday 21 February.

On the Family Islands, all eligible residents who choose to take the vaccine will be vaccinated at the same time. The schedule will not follow the prioritized group rollout on the islands, said Prime Minister Minnis.

“The National COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan is in the final stages of completion in preparation for the arrival of the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines,” said the Prime Minister.

Eight to ten vaccination sites have been identified on New Providence, inclusive of drive-thru sites.

Sites have also already been identified on Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.

Mobile units will be used to safely distribute vaccines to vulnerable populations in their communities, said the Prime Minister, who added that focus will be placed on high-risk populations where COVID-19 has occurred.

“Health officials and the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee are looking at additional platforms to increase access to and ensure equity of distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to all communities,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

Vaccine appointment software is very near completion and is expected to be rolled out in advance of distribution, allowing those who choose to take the vaccine, to schedule their appointments digitally. 

For those without access to the internet, appointment centers will be set up to provide assistance with making appointments to receive the vaccine.

The Prime Minister said that the US Embassy has offered to assist with air transportation to the Family Islands during the vaccine rollout, especially to the smaller islands and cays.

On Monday, the 22 February, the Government expects to receive more details as it relates to the shipment of the 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that have been secured through the COVAX Facility, he said.

Additionally, the Bahamas Government has also been able to secure a commitment from the Government of India for a small quantity of AstraZeneca vaccines from a WHO/Emergency Use Listing (EUL)-approved manufacturer in India, said the Prime Minister.

“The Government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional approved vaccines for The Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Minnis.  

“Officials are speaking directly with multiple suppliers to obtain more WHO/EUL approved vaccines.”  

The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government will only accept COVID-19 vaccines that are pre-qualified for use by the World Health Organization and approved by stringent regulatory authorities. 

Prime Minister Minnis urged all who are eligible to get vaccinated.

“I will take the vaccine,” he said. “I will urge family and friends to take the vaccine.

“By getting vaccinated you will help the country to return to a greater level of normalcy. By getting vaccinated you will also help our economy to recover faster. When a large percentage of Bahamians are vaccinated, we will be able to responsibly open up even more.”