(KINGSTON, JAMAICA) – Jamaica’s vaccination programme is set to receive a major shot in the arm with the expected arrival this Thursday, April 1, of some 75,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Vaccine, through the African Medical Supply Platform.
“These doses will aid significantly in the country’s quest to vaccinate our elderly population, who are the ones most at risk,” said the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton as he gave on update on the ongoing vaccination drive against the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Tufton stated that there are other supply opportunities that are being pursued by the Government with the clear policy instruction that all vaccines supplied to the country must be approved by the stated stringent approval authority: that being the World Health Organisation, the European Authority and the United States-based Food and Drug Administration.
“While we await approval of vaccines, the strategic posture of the government has been to make every effort to ensure that we engage with all manufacturers through bi-lateral or direct contact. This is to ensure that as soon as vaccines are approved that shipment can be guaranteed,” Tufton said.
The shipment of vaccines from the African Medical Supply Platform will be Jamaica’s third. Previously, Jamaica received 50,000 vaccines as a gift from the Government of India and an additional 14,400 doses through the COVAX facility. That is hardly enough to begin to make a dent in the vaccination drive as the government looks to achieve herd immunity in the shortest possible time with Jamaica recording more than 38,000 COVID-19 infections and 586 deaths as of Monday.
Meanwhile, Tufton reminded that the country’s vaccination programme got underway on March 10, exactly one year to the date that the first case of COVID-19 was recorded on the island.
“As of March 29, some 37, 508 people have been vaccinated across the island with the following breakdown: week one – 16,096 representing 94 per cent of target; week two – 13,244 representing 116 per cent of target. So far in week three some 8,168 persons have been vaccinated, representing 42 per cent of the target,” the minister shared.
In the meantime, the health and wellness ministry will be stepping up its vaccination blitz this coming weekend after falling short of its target during its first blitz at the National Arena last Saturday. The senior population, 75 years and older, is particularly targeted.
Tufton said the ministry intends to host 25 vaccination blitz over the next three months.
The locations for the vaccination blitz planned for the weekend of April 9 includes:
-The National Arena in Kingston
– Celebration Church, Portmore
– SDC office, St Thomas
– Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James
– Lucea Anglican Church, Hanover
– Denbigh Show Grounds, Clarendon
– St Mark’s Anglican Parish Church, Manchester
– St Matthews Anglican Parish Church, St Elizabeth
– Bahia Principe Resort, St Ann
– Trelawny Multi-Purpose Centre, Trelwany
– Gayle Civic Centre, St Mary
– Folly Oval, Portland
Tufton said the ministry will continue to review other locations to be used as vaccination blitz sites. And, he said the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) will be brought on board to assist.
He said “the special approach going forward will include working with the EOJ, Members of Parliament, and councillors to assist with the identification, registration and logistics of moving the targeted groups to the relevant vaccination sites. However, the option of persons registering online through the Ministry of Health and Wellness Website and through our National Vaccination Hotline still remains”.