Good news for travelers to the Caribbean: Barbados has announced it is in the process of a mass COVID-19 vaccination program, following the donation of 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India. It adds, with over 25,000 people—approximately 12.5 percent of the adult population—already receiving their first shots within just two weeks, the island leads the way as the most vaccinated country in the Caribbean.
The first wave of vaccinations was distributed to frontline workers, including those in the tourism sector, as well as the vulnerable population, including the elderly and persons with comorbidities. Now, all citizens over 18 are coming forward to get their first dose of the vaccine.
The interesting part is this: To ensure widespread protection, the Government of Barbados has signaled its intent to obtain more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for persons on island, whether they are citizens or not, by the end of April or early May 2021. Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) confirmed with Travel Agent that this means that travelers to the island who have not been vaccinated would be able to receive one or more doses.
BTMI added that no additional details on this are available yet, so it’s unknown whether the island would be testing for only long-term stays, will prioritize visitors by age or vulnerability, or if any who are interested will be able to receive one—or how.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes vaccination as a critical tool in reducing the impact of COVID-19 worldwide.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that a comprehensive vaccination program was the fourth step in Barbados’ COVID-19 management plan. Other strategies include contact tracing; lab testing; public health protocols such as physical distancing and handwashing; and “Operation Seek and Save,” which saw the Ministry of Health and Wellness traveling to communities to do public health assessments to capture those who may be unknowingly infected by the virus and offer them early healthcare, especially the elderly. (https://www.travelagentcentral.com/caribbean/barbados-could-begin-vaccinating-visitors-by-end-april)