Mon | Dec 6, 2021

Get vaccinated against COVID-19 – UNICEF rep

Published:Thursday | March 18, 2021 | 12:25 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Mariko Kagoshima.
Mariko Kagoshima.

UNICEF’s Country Representative to Jamaica Mariko Kagoshima is urging Jamaicans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, in order to start repairing the damage to lives and livelihoods caused by the global pandemic.

She offered some insight into the extent of the devastation since Jamaica recorded its first COVID-19 case more than a year ago, especially on children.

“Of households with children we surveyed June to August last year, approximately 80 per cent suffered a reduction in income and 44 per cent of families experienced food shortages, and female-headed households face greater challenges in income loss and food shortages. Prolonged school closure also impacted schoolchildren, taking away the opportunity to learn with their friends, accessing school meals and the safety net that school provides to schoolchildren from violence, abuse and exploitation.”

The UNICEF country representative was addressing a handover of tablets and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Jamaica and the Private Sector Vaccination Initiative. And Kagoshima, who witnessed the arrival of 14,400 doses of vaccines, the first commercial shipment under the COVAX facility to the Caribbean on Monday, spoke to the anticipated improvements in living standards, as well as other benefits from the efficiencies of the digital health platform to facilitate the pre-registration and schedule management for the national vaccination process.

“With each dose comes added protection for Jamaican families, not only from the virus itself but from the secondary impact which harms children now and threaten their future. We know that much hard work remains to be done to ensure an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines.

“Vaccination is how we can rebound from what has already been a devastating impact for children, and of course their families. With sufficient capacity and resources and supported by the vaccine roll-out, UNICEF is confident that life can start to return to normal for people in Jamaica, and especially for children. Getting their education back on track and rebuilding for the better future. Behind the scenes the work has already begun on this project and much more is to be done over the coming days and weeks. UNICEF stands with you,” she declared.


Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said that system, which is being tweaked to identify and remove any kinks, should be operational by April, when persons seeking to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination will be able to access it either though the Ministry’s website or that of the regional health authorities, or through a call centre that will be properly managed.

“That system will be launched in full in April,” he announced.

Dr Tufton also used the event to appeal for calm among the vulnerable groups.

“As we expand to the over-60s, the system will be available through phone, website or otherwise, so that we can catch everyone. I know you are anxious but it gives some time. A key component is to be able to vaccinate in a timely and efficient manner, through the use of technology to manage the registration process at the vaccination sites across the island.”