Sat | Apr 17, 2021

Vaccine galore - Gov’t lands deal to receive 1.8 million doses next month

Published:Monday | March 1, 2021 | 12:20 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica is scheduled to receive its first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week.
Jamaica is scheduled to receive its first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week.

The Government has announced that it has reached a deal with the African Medical Supply Platform for the delivery of 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, starting next month.

The announcement comes as the Holness administration is under pressure to commence vaccination against the disease that has caused the public-health system to creak under record hospitalisations and infections in February.

Further, the 50,000 AstraZeneca vaccines gifted by the Indian government will be arriving in the island no later than Thursday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton disclosed at a press conference at Jamaica House on Sunday.

And 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine procured under the COVAX Facility will arrive here on March 11 from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Tufton had told Parliament that Jamaica would receive approximately 140,000 doses of vaccines from COVAX and up to 249,000 of the AstraZeneca vaccines by mid-February.

Each person is expected to get two doses of the vaccine.

Persons 60 years and older, members of the army, police, firefighters, and members of the Department of Correctional Services and the Jamaica Customs Agency will be among the first groups to get the jab.

The Government is pushing to inoculate 65 per cent of the population to achieve herd immunity.

Tufton said a survey showed that on average, up to 40 per cent of persons have indicated a willingness to take the vaccine, 25 to 30 per cent are unsure or awaiting more information, and 25 to 30 per cent have stated that they would not submit to the jab.

A vaccine-distribution plan, approved by Cabinet, is to be rolled out this week.

The prime minister has insisted that there will be equity and transparency in the distribution.

“The vaccine must be delivered on a basis of equity,” Holness stated.

“All our ministers, all our political personnel have been directed that they must not interfere with the established schedule of inoculation,” he told journalists.

“Nobody must call any minister of any political figure to jump the line for vaccination.”

Holness used the opportunity to blast Opposition Leader Mark Golding, who had accused him of being grossly negligent in procuring vaccines.

The prime minister said that his administration had clearly indicated that it would only administer vaccines that had been approved by the World Health Organization.

“We did not accept vaccines until they were certified. So when others were saying ‘Why you don’t take the vaccine?’, I wondered if that is what they would have done if they were at the wicket,” Holness asserted.

“We must resist the urge for cheap politics.”

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com