Barbados’ supplies of COVID-19 vaccines are kept under tight security and the chances of them being stolen or misdirected are extremely low.
That was the assurance of Major David Clarke, co-coordinator of the island’s COVID-19 vaccination programme. He told COVID Weekly that security around the vaccines is significant and maintained on a 24-hour basis.
The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) soldier who heads the programme along with Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, made the comments in a recent interview. He was speaking against a backdrop of a report last month where several doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines went missing from a vaccination site at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in the parish of St James in Jamaica.
According to media reports from that country, the vial containing the doses was discovered to be missing after standard checks were carried out during the vaccination process.
That country’s Ministry of Health said an investigation involving the review of CCTV footage and the policies and procedures at the site, would take place. Several members of staff of the Western Regional Health Authority who were assigned to the vaccination site were reassigned, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Explaining the process that occurs in Barbados, Major Clarke noted: “From the time the vaccines arrive, they were under security from the Barbados Defence Force and the Royal Barbados Police Force.”
He disclosed that thousands of doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines which are to be administered to persons scheduled to receive their second dose, are also under strict security.
“Those vaccines are in storage and are secure within the public health security system, but we have also added our own security system for double protection,” the co-coordinator stated.
According to Major Clarke, strict protocols are in place to ensure all the COVID-19 vaccines are accounted for and their use is under the supervision of the Senior Health Sister at the polyclinic system.
“Where we have the doctors in the mobile teams, they collect the doses to be used and we only given them a particular number of vaccines.
“There is very strong accountability for the issuance of vaccines and also for the return of vaccines that they may not use at the end of any process. I would say we have an excellent inventory management control system through the public health system,” he asserted.
“These professionals have been in the vaccine business for many years. This is not new for them. The nurses, sisters, doctors who are doing the vaccination process have been vaccinating people in Barbados every day.”