The public health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of lives, jobs, livelihoods and much more. The economic hardship faced by our people due to restrictive measures implemented by the government is a direct consequence of the shutdown of our number one industry – tourism. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of diversifying our economy and prioritizing food security.
Against this backdrop, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) acknowledges the importance of addressing the economic crisis and the role of an opened economy in this regard. It is essential that we reduce and control the community spread of COVID-19 as the virus can have detrimental acute infection complications and result in death. We also note that The Bahamas has a high rate of chronic non-communicable diseases, immune compromised patients including the elderly, and a poor tertiary healthcare system due to years of neglect. Additionally, due to the strain of COVID-19, access to care for other potentially fatal conditions including heart attack, stroke, and cancer care has been significantly reduced.
The purpose of vaccines is to reduce the rate of infection or decrease the severity of the disease if contracted.
Concerns have been raised about the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines have been developed when compared to the normal timeframes for the creation, testing and approval of other vaccines. We believe that only a safe and appropriately evaluated vaccine should be approved for use in The Bahamas. Public education must also be done to ease the concerns of the populace. Once these steps have been taken, persons at the highest risk who wish to take the vaccine should be prioritized for vaccination. These include health care workers, people with chronic non-communicable diseases, and immunocompromised patients.
We maintain that individuals must always retain their right to decide whether to take the vaccine and under no circumstances should it be made mandatory. We note that none of the vaccines are approved for use in children under 16 years and pregnant or breastfeeding women. All these factors and proper guidelines must be incorporated into the COVID-19 vaccination plan and ensure the smooth delivery of this public health intervention.
Democratic National Alliance