Significant drop in vaccination numbers is likely due to absence of Pfizer, the preferred drug, says Information Minister

Vaccination numbers have declined noticeably over the past week, and Information Minister Melford Nicholas attributes the drop to residents’ preference for one vaccine over the others.

Many people have gravitated to the Pfizer BioNtech drug since it went into use here.  Some residents believe it is much safer and does not cause as many side effects as the others vaccines on offer.

Accordingly, Nicholas says the Ministry of Health has run low on the Pfizer drug and is awaiting a promised delivery from the United States.

He says that Antigua and Barbuda should receive 17,600 doses of this vaccine, which will be its second tranche, and these are likely to be delivered at the end of October.

Nicholas adds that a third tranche in the same amount should be delivered sometime thereafter.

Meanwhile, there are still thousands of the Oxford AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Johnson and Johnson vaccines available.  The Minister is urging residents to make use of them, since, he says, the best vaccine is the one that is available.


Therefore, Nicholas says, no adult will be exempted from the Government’s mandate on the basis of the lack of vaccines, since there are so many in stock.

Regarding the expiration of the vaccines now on hand, Nicholas says there is no need to worry about the Russian and Chinese drugs expiring any time soon.  He does, however, harbour some concern about the AstraZeneca.

In the meantime, Nicholas says it is evident that the number of daily infections is decreasing.  This is the result of having a smaller number of unvaccinated adults in the population, he says.

Official reports say that about 2,000 students, aged 12-17, have not yet been inoculated, “although more than 75% of the eligible students have received their first shot.”

The only vaccine authorized, thus far, for children above 12 years old is the Pfizer.

This week, in Parliament, Barbuda MP Trevor Walker criticized the ad hoc operations of the Browne Administration.  During the debate on the amendment to the Education Act, he accused the Ministry of Health of poor planning, since it allowed adults to access the Pfizer drug, causing stocks to be dangerously depleted. 

Meanwhile, some teachers tell REAL News the vaccination figures for children are inflated.  They shared statistics from the schools at which they work, which indicate the percentage is not yet at 50%. 

“Private schools might be much higher,” they conceded; “but the public schools are not up there, like they say. 

“Why do you think the Cabinet allowed all upper-level students to go back to school?” one educator asks.  “They know that if they wait for the vaccination numbers to go up, then schools will be closed until next year,” she concludes.