Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Vaxxed to the max

Vaccinations top 135,000 after whirlwind blitz

Published:Thursday | April 15, 2021 | 12:17 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer -
(From left) Delroy Pottinger, Roma Binns and Andrea Francis moments after receiving their dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre on Sunday.
(From left) Delroy Pottinger, Roma Binns and Andrea Francis moments after receiving their dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre on Sunday.

Powered by the five-day mass immunisation programme that ended on Tuesday, Jamaica has surged to become the English-speaking Caribbean country which has administered the most doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness has reported that 135,473 persons have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as of April 13.

That represents seven per cent of the 1.9 million Jamaicans being targeting for vaccination for the country to achieve herd immunity by March 2022.

Each person is expected to receive two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

The ministry reported that in week five of the vaccination programme, 87,755 Jamaicans were vaccinated, overshooting the initial target of 59,530.

On April 12 especially, 26,961 persons were vaccinated, making it the largest one-day vaccination in the country’s history.

According to the ministry, 17,629 healthcare workers have received the jab, 5,947 teachers, and 4,339 tourism workers.

Ministry data show that 56 per cent of those vaccinated thus far are women.

Further analysis of the data shows that the 60-69 age group has seen the largest take-up of 26 per cent of the vaccine.

Twenty per cent of the vaccines went to those who fall between the ages of 50 and 59, and 14 per cent between 40 and 49.

Kingston and St Andrew accounted for the largest share of persons who have been vaccinated.

Portland and Hanover are at the bottom of the table.

The ministry said it has received 76 notifications of adverse reaction or side effects from persons who have taken the vaccine.

Thirty-four of those came from those between the ages of 18 and 37.

“We continue to watch this trend that the younger persons who receive the vaccine are the ones that have the most side effects,” Dr Melody Ennis, director of family services in the Ministry of Health & Wellness, said on Wednesday.

Only three per cent of persons over 78 have reported an adverse effect after taking the vaccine.

Overall, the vast majority of them came from females.

One male has died since receiving the vaccine. That death is under investigation.

“Our two life-threatening conditions were the actually dreaded anaphylactic reactions. We are happy to report the patients who have been classified as same have recovered and are doing well. We also had two hospitalisations,” Ennis stated.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced that healthcare workers would be given a break from the mass vaccination programme.

“They are tired. I saw persons working on their last fumes when they had to go late into the night, and they deserve a break.

“Secondly, there are other things to do in public health, it is not just about COVID,” Tufton explained.

Phased vaccination will continue on Monday until some 55,000 doses arrive on the island sometime next week.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com