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Tufton: No forced jabs for people with underlying conditions

Published:Saturday | July 31, 2021 | 12:08 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that persons who do not satisfy the Ministry of Health’s protocols for receiving COVID-19 vaccines, including those with medical conditions that would preclude them from receiving their shots, will not be encouraged to do so.

During his latest COVID-19 Conversations press briefing on Thursday, Tufton said that the ministry’s vaccine guidelines include examination of persons with underlying conditions to determine whether they should receive their shots or not.

“Part of the protocol is to examine persons’ underlying conditions, to give them an examination if necessary, and to recommend their suitability to take the vaccine. Clearly, no one is going to be forced to take the vaccine if they have or are experiencing conditions that would not serve them well clinically, and there is a process in the protocols that provides that kind of guidance, which would apply to everyone, whatever their profession,” Tufton told the meeting.

However, Tufton stressed that different protocols will have to come into play for persons who are able to take the vaccine but knowingly refuse to do so.

“We are speaking here of persons who can take the vaccine and are deemed fit to take it, and who may refuse to do so in an environment where others have taken it. This then creates an inequality of risk, which could pose a problem to the general population, and clearly, the protocols may have to be different depending on the risk profiles of those individuals,” said Tufton.

Backlash from teachers

The minister’s comments follow reports of a backlash from Jamaica’s teachers over Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ recent declaration that instructors who were vaccinated against COVID-19 may receive preferential treatment not accessible to their non-vaccinated colleagues.

Meanwhile, Dr Melody Ennis, the Ministry of Health’s director of Family Services, revealed that there have been some11 reports of persons dying after getting their shots. She stressed that there was no evidence linking those deaths to the vaccine.

“We have noted 11 persons that died after receiving the vaccine, and we concluded that nine of those deaths were coincidental, while the underlying illnesses that the remaining two persons had could possibly have led to their deaths. We have also identified three persons who we have recommended, based on our assessment, that they should not receive the second dose of the vaccine,” said Ennis.

The Ministry of Health aims to administer 150,000 of the 300,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses received from the United Kingdom during the first week of its inoculation programme which begins today. Jamaica is expected to receive 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for distribution by the end of September.