Sat | Nov 26, 2022

Events calendar coming for vaccinated persons

Published:Thursday | February 3, 2022 | 12:09 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Dr Christopher Tufton (left), minister of health and wellness, and Norman Horne, chairman of Arc Manufacturing and Arc Properties Limited, examine furnishings inside the newly opened field hospital on the compound of the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmore
Dr Christopher Tufton (left), minister of health and wellness, and Norman Horne, chairman of Arc Manufacturing and Arc Properties Limited, examine furnishings inside the newly opened field hospital on the compound of the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland on Wednesday. Looking on is Diane Scott, CEO of the Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation Group.

WESTERN BUREAU:

HEALTH AND Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has announced that the Government will soon launch an official calendar of events for which persons fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be eligible to attend.

Tufton made the revelation on Wednesday while addressing the official opening of the new field hospital at the Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital in Westmoreland.

The field hospital, which was built at a cost of $35.4 million, has a capacity of up to 50 bed spaces.

“Over the next week or so, the Government intends to announce a series of events, an events calendar if you will, for over the next four months, that will now allow more persons to congregate around certain events within a controlled setting. The single most significant criterion of that is that you must be vaccinated,” Tufton told attendees.

“If you take the time to protect yourself and others do not, then I believe you should enjoy more privileges and rights to certain activities over those who have decided not to do so. It is a controversial position, but it is a position that the Government has endorsed,” he added.

Approximately 22 per cent of Jamaica’s population is fully vaccinated, the second worst compliance rate in the Caribbean.

Jamaica is in its fourth wave of the pandemic, fuelled mainly by an explosion of infections linked to the Omicron variant.

Omicron is far more transmissible than the Delta strain, which sparked last summer’s third wave, but the latter was far likelier to cause severe illness and death.

Positivity rates have dipped over the last two weeks from a high of almost 70 per cent. Tuesday’s returns registered 21.6 per cent.

Tufton said that Jamaica’s COVID-19 immunisation programme should have achieved better take-up than the 1.3 million doses that have been administered to date.

“The truth is that far more than three times that amount should be vaccinated by now. Many Jamaicans, for whatever reason and even with the opportunity to get vaccinated, have not done so,” Tufton remarked.

“We continue to encourage vaccination, and we continue to provide information if persons are concerned about any side effects or otherwise. But that theme of personal responsibility is going to have to be the primary driver of living with COVID.”

Jamaica has recorded 124,967 total COVID-19 infections as at Tuesday, February 1, with 2,675 deaths from the disease on record. There are 6,668 active cases, and 70,340 persons have recovered from the virus.

As at Wednesday, the Ministry of Health had administered 664,742 first doses and 540,745 second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and 82,227 of the Johnson & Johnson and 19,446 booster shots have been given to recipients.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com