Sat | Jan 22, 2022

JMDA concerned about the use of ‘connections’ to get vaccines

Published:Wednesday | March 17, 2021 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
A nurse preparing to administer a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Windward Road Health Centre in Kingston on Monday.
A nurse preparing to administer a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Windward Road Health Centre in Kingston on Monday.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Dr Mindi Fitz-Henley, the president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), says she is alarmed by reports that persons are using their connections with hospitals to get COVID-19 vaccines ahead of persons with legitimate vaccination appointments.

“We are concerned that private citizens seem to be skipping the lines and getting their names on lists for vaccinations, especially cases which are being allowed by the senior medical officers at some hospitals. It is a case of ‘who you know, and how big they are’, and I got messages saying that people were told they could get vaccines in Manchester, the Western Regional Health Authority, and the South East Regional Health Authority,” Fitz-Henley complained to The Gleaner last weekend.

The JMDA boss’ concern comes amid reports from the Ministry of Health that unscheduled persons and their relatives have been turning up for vaccinations. These individuals are said to be numbered among the more than 10,000 persons who have received their shots since the islandwide COVID-19 vaccination programme was rolled out last Wednesday.

INACCURATE DATA

Fitz-Henley said that any disruption of the scheduled COVID-19 vaccination plan by unscheduled vaccine-seekers will negatively impact the intended distribution of vaccines, and will result in inaccurate data compilation for the number of vaccinations administered.

“It is very sad because it is disrupting the flow of how things are to go. We do not have a problem when you are getting a vaccine, but have mercy and just give us a chance, because this week is for the hospital workers and staff, and they need to get it first,” said Fitz-Henley.

“When you see total the numbers [for vaccination], and you expect this week to only be for healthcare workers, it is going to appear that all the numbers are going to be the healthcare workers. But if they are to look at the amount of vaccines that were given this week, it cannot all be for healthcare workers. So the numbers would be skewed because it would include non-healthcare workers,” the JMDA president explained.

During the initial stages of the vaccination programme, priority groups such as front-line healthcare workers, the elderly, and members of the security forces are being targeted for vaccination against COVID-19, for which 31,305 infections and 492 deaths have been recorded to date. Jamaica had previously received a gift of 50,000 vaccine doses from the Indian government on March 8.

It is projected that 65 per cent of Jamaica’s population of approximately three million people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 2022, to achieve herd immunity.