Barbados began implementing its COVID-19 vaccination programme against the coronavirus in mid-February, thanks to a generous gift of 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD) vaccines from the Government of India. Some of this donation has been shared with other CARICOM neighbours. Since the start of the vaccination drive, more than 40,000 citizens have received the vaccination as of 2 March. Barbados was one of the first independent Caribbean nations to take this step.
The programme has involved the use of polyclinics across the island, primary and secondary schools, the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and even a drive-in cinema.
UNCTAD 15 national Focal Point for Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, had been recruited for the effort. She is currently serving as co-Coordinator of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign along with Major David Clarke of the Barbados Defence Force. Dr. Ferdinand is a retired Acting Chief Medical Officer of Barbados, and has many years of professional experience in immunization campaigns.
The programme began by targeting frontline workers. This was followed up by selecting the most vulnerable citizens to be offered the vaccine. These include persons in the over-70 age group, followed by persons aged 18-69 with co-morbidities. Barbadians have responded enthusiastically to the invitation to be vaccinated.
Barbados expects to soon receive another batch of vaccinations, as part of the World Health Organisation’s COVAX programme, and is in negotiations with the Government of India to purchase another 100,000 doses.
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