On Monday, June 21, the Rhode Island National Guard (RING) begAN its second mission to partner with The Bahamas Ministry of Health and the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee to distribute 7,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses eight Family Islands, with deliveries again planned for Mayaguana, Acklins Island, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Long Island, Inagua, Bimini, and Eleuthera. This mission is another part of the United States Government’s continued support of The Bahamas in the shared fight against COVID-19, one of many areas of strategic partnership between both countries.
The high-level government officials on hand for the distribution launch at Odyssey Aviation highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Bahamas relationship. The U.S. delegation included U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Rear Admiral Daniel Cheever and Major General Michelle M. Rose of U.S. Northern Command; Major General Christopher Callahan of the Rhode Island National Guard; and Commander Kevin Self, Senior Defense Official for the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. The Bahamas’ Minister of Health, the Honourable Renward Wells, greeted the delegation and met with them to discuss various areas of cooperation; the healthcare workers and volunteers accompanying the vaccine doses then greeted the group as they stepped onto the tarmac.
In April of this year the U.S. Embassy in Nassau facilitated the first joint mission to distribute vaccine doses to the Family Islands. The Bahamas’ COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee and the Ministry of Health determined the distribution plan and the locations most in need. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) has donated specialized coolers for properly transporting vaccine doses and keeping them viable, while the RING once again provided the aircraft and crew for the mission—a C-12 plane capable of carrying 1650 lbs. of passenger and cargo, plus aircrew.
Since 2006, through the U.S. Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, the RING has supported The Bahamas working primarily with Bahamian law enforcement agencies. This week’s vaccine delivery mission highlights the ongoing commitment of the U.S. Government in support of the global fight against COVID-19.