Mon | May 17, 2021

14,000 more AstraZeneca doses expected in days

Published:Friday | March 12, 2021 | 12:22 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says Jamaica is to receive a shipment of 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next Monday as the island steps up its COVID-19 vaccination drive. He said that this is the first delivery under the...

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says Jamaica is to receive a shipment of 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next Monday as the island steps up its COVID-19 vaccination drive.

He said that this is the first delivery under the COVAX Facility – a global effort to improve equitable access to vaccines – with the remaining amount from a total allocation of 124,800 does expected to arrive by May.

In giving an update on the island’s vaccination efforts so far during a press conference yesterday, the health minister and his team said that on Wednesday, the first day of the vaccination drive, 2,718 jabs of the two-part vaccine were administered out of a projected 3,280.

However, Tufton said that he was very pleased with the progress of vaccination among front-line healthcare workers, adding that the total figure for day one would increase when the number of soldiers vaccinated by the Jamaica Defence Force was tallied.

“I think that’s a good achievement. It’s a commendable achievement in that this is the start of a national process … and in a sense, it was a trial run,” the health minister said.

Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force are the uniformed groups, along with the health workers and elderly persons, targeted for inoculation in first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

On Wednesday, Jamaica saw its highest one-day toll from the virus, with 12 people dying.

Tufton said that despite concerns about the pause put on the AstraZeneca vaccine by five European countries, Jamaica remains committed to using the vaccine based on the science, which continues to show that it is still effective and safe.

He made it clear that despite the urgency, Jamaica would not compromise the health of its population by rushing to purchase vaccinations from any and everyone.

“We want vaccines that are WHO (World Health Organisation) approved. That’s been our culture. That’s been our tradition and that’s what we have relied on to deliver safe vaccines to the population. Yes, there are offers for vaccines that are not approved yet by the WHO, [but] our principle is to discuss, to engage, and wait.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com