Mr Speaker, Honourable Members,
Yesterday, June 30th, our mass vaccination programme ended. A campaign that saw over 75% of the total population fully immunized, and over 85% of the eligible population either vaccinated or fully immunized, since our vaccination programme began January 11, 2021.
Bermuda residents have received approxiamately 135,000 vaccinations.
This is indeed great news for Bermuda. Our vaccination programme went tremendously well.
Bermuda’s Covid-19 vaccination programme surpassed the World Health Organisation’s goal of 70 per cent immunization of a population ahead of the June 30 target.
As a reminder, Bermuda launched its vaccine awareness programme in January 2021 ahead of the Pfizer vaccines arriving in Bermuda. The objective was to make everyone aware of the benefits of getting the vaccine and encourage Bermuda’s seniors (65 years and older), those most at risk, to sign up and get vaccinated.
With the assistance of Government House, on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, and the assistance of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the first shipment of 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine COVID-19 vaccine arrived on January 8, as scheduled, on the British Airways flight. The second shipment of 19,500 arrived January 29. Bermuda was one of four UK Overseas Territories to receive a share of the first batch of vaccines.
After the most vulnerable in Bermuda were vaccinated, the campaign moved on to people over 50 years old and then the general population.
You would remember that a lot work went into our vaccination awareness programme. Many social media campaigns, radio talk shows, press conferences, facebook live sessions, several media interviews and extensive interviews on local radio stations providing information and addressing some of the misconceptions and myths that exist around getting the vaccine, including but not limited to infertility and blood clots amongst other concerns.
A hard push was implemented through our Close to Home mobile vaccination programme in neighbourhoods island-wide. With a free minibus service, this programme ensured that transportation to a vaccination centre was not a barrier to getting the vaccine.
The Close to Home Programme, which was superbly operationalized and managed by the Bermuda Health Council, was also an ideal opportunity to learn more for those people who wanted to hear about the COVID-19 vaccine from a trusted source.
Over the past eighteen months, Covid-19 vaccines were also available, the Bermuda Police Recreational Club, the Bermuda College,the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Edgewood Pediatric Services and the Hamilton Health Centre. We had pop-up clinics at Fairmont Southampton, Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, Lindo’s Supermarket, the National Sports Center, Pier-6, and the Crissons Building.
The Ministry’s community outreach team worked to reach seniors and partnered with agencies such as Age Concern and the Red Cross. The collective efforts made by the community as a whole were priceless, including the support provided by the Bermuda Frontline Line Foundation and individual citizens throughout the community.
Additonally , in recent months, a number of health service providers had vaccination clinics, including:
- Somerset Pharmacy
- Wee-Care Pediatrics
- Edgewood Pediatric Services
- Omni Medical
- Northshore Medical
- Somers Medical Services
- Bermuda Healthcare Services, and
- Bermuda Diabetes Association
As I said earlier, it has been a busy eighteen months of vaccinating our community largely for free, with numerous locations around the island. There were no stones unturned to ensure that everyone who wanted to get vaccinated had easy access.
In addition to the Ministry of Health’s staff, who work between testing and contact tracing and case management, often in addition to their ‘day job’ of community nurse, we welcomed the necessary assistance of the Bermuda Hospitals Board and its staff, general practitioners, pharmacist, Advanced EMTs, dentists, vets and retired nurses. This collective effort placed Bermuda among the top countries in the world for vaccinations administered per capita.
As Minister, and on behalf of the Ministry, I cannot thank these professionals enough. Their dedication to the island’s wellbeing is truly stellar.
Our success in dealing with COVID-19 was and still is, a community effort. I am truly grateful to everyone involved, and I am also grateful to the many individuals in our community who got vaccinated.
Those that came when we started eighteen months ago, those that waited until they were eligible and registered as soon as they could, those who were sitting on the fence, undecided and eventually got vaccinated.
Thank you, everyone.
The Coronavirus vaccinne is key to living safely with COVID-19. It reduces the severity of COVID-19 if you get infected, and it reduces hospitalizations and deaths.
The Ministry of Health recognises that this pandemic would have been worse if not for the level of vaccination in the community. We know that vaccines work and have the data to prove it.
We are pausing our vaccination programme for a few months now, as the demand was insufficient to warrant another shipment.
However, to those not yet vaccinated but considering, I urge you to seek information from a credible source to help you decide.
We have worked hard to reach this point in the pandemic. I want to thank the entire Bermuda community for its efforts.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.