[Column written by MP Michael Dunkley]
Many residents were happy to see the end of 2020, a year during which many dreams, hopes and expectations were seriously dampened and damaged by the onset of Covid-19. As we enter 2021 with renewed faith and optimism of a New Year we must be cognizant of the fact, while the availability of vaccinations provides hope, that Covid-19 is still very much with us.
December recorded the highest number of positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic more than quadrupling the previous high from April 2020 with well over 300 cases in the month. The significant uptick in December continued with 18 positive cases announced in the first report for January.
Covid vaccinations offer renewed hope in the fight against the virus. I have confidence in the science and have no reservation in receiving the “jab.” With the Government’s announcement of the arrival very shortly of the first shipment of vaccinations, estimated to be enough for 4875 people, it is critical that a comprehensive plan is laid out as to who is eligible to receive a jab from this first batch, how these people will book an appointment and where it will be administered.
Government has broadly stated that those eligible to be vaccination in the first batch will be frontline workers, essential workers, vulnerable people and seniors. Quick calculations of the numbers potentially in each one of these categories raises concerns that if proper planning is not done well in advance of the first batch the demand could potentially far outstrip the supply. Thus it is critical that the Ministry of Health is proactive in this regard.
It is also crucial that Government provide information about vaccines, highlight the benefits of the vaccine, the importance of the vaccines in the fight against the pandemic and to dispel myths about Covid vaccines among other items.
The rollout and availability in some other jurisdictions has been slower than promised and it is important that Bermuda does not face the same challenge. As a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health has said, for some people getting vaccinated could be the difference between life and death.
– Michael Dunkley