NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Dr Caroline Burnett-Garraway, medical chief of staff at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), was vaccinated at the hospital yesterday morning, along with several other executives and those eligible to be inoculated, as the government rolled out its vaccination program to nurses in the public sector, residents and staff of elder care home and uniformed services.
After she received the first dose of Oxford AstraZeneca, Burnett-Garraway told the media: “I’m vaccinated, yay. I’m very excited that I was able to receive my COVID-19 vaccine today. I’m an emergency surgeon and so I do manage patients in the Accident and Emergency Department, and there is always that worry that, you know, I could be exposed; I could get COVID-19; I could take it home to family.
“And so, this is one tool in the fight that we’ve been going through for the past year in The Bahamas and worldwide. And I’m so excited that hopefully soon we can get back to normal.”
Asked whether there was any reservation before taking the vaccine, the surgeon said she had no concerns.
Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Managing Director Lyrone Burrows was also vaccinated yesterday morning.
More than a dozen European countries have temporarily suspended the rollout of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after reports of blood clotting in some recipients.
There has been no direct link between the vaccine and the fewer than 40 incidents of blood clotting, however, those countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca out of an abundance of caution.
The batch from European manufactures differs from the doses of AstraZeneca in The Bahamas, which were manufactured and donated by India, one of the largest manufactures of the vaccine.
The government has said the 20,000 doses received last Wednesday met all World Health Organization requirements and underwent testing over the weekend.
Among the European countries that have halted their rollout of AstraZeneca are Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
More than 17 million people have received the vaccine in the United Kingdom.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), European medicines regulator, reiterated on Tuesday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.
It remains unclear how many people have been vaccinated in The Bahamas.
Health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis confirmed 110 people had been vaccinated as of Sunday afternoon.
Burnett-Garraway said yesterday: “The numbers were so small that had the clot and I don’t have any predisposing factors to get a clot, so I wasn’t worried. The benefits of taking this vaccine outweigh the chances of getting a little clot.
“So, I encourage everyone, when your time comes, when it’s your time to get the vaccine, please get it and protect yourself.”
As the first person vaccinated by PMH, Burnett-Garraway said she felt “privileged and relieved”.
Acknowledging some reluctance in the public, the surgeon said she wanted to set the example that it is safe and everyone should take it.
According to an internal survey, 40 percent of healthcare workers who participated expressed a desire to take the COVID-19 vaccines.
Burnett-Garraway said she expects uptake of the vaccine to be very good.