Sat | May 15, 2021

Health ministry pushes to overcome vaccine hesitancy

Published:Saturday | April 10, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher SerjuSenior Gleaner Writer
Ian Allen
Minister of Health and Welness Dr. Christopher Tufton looks at the 75,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines shortly after it arrived in the island via a chartered flight from Ghana on Thursday.
Ian Allen Minister of Health and Welness Dr. Christopher Tufton looks at the 75,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines shortly after it arrived in the island via a chartered flight from Ghana on Thursday.

The COVID immunisation programme has been going well but is still affected by ‘vaccination hesitancy’ which the government is planning to overcome with a greater public awareness drive, according to Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton.

He said the two vaccination blitzes at the National Arena during which more than 600 senior citizens were inoculated in the first round and more than 1,300 on the second weekend, proved to be quite a testing ground for the health care workers, who acquitted themselves very well.

“The health teams in the field have been phenomenal. They have applied themselves, they have adjusted where necessary. They have really administered courtesy and a level of expertise that we have to appreciate as a people, particularly when dealing with our senior citizens,” he told a press conference at the Norman Manley International Airport on Thursday.

Tufton, who was on hand to oversee the delivery of 75,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a gift from the government and people of South Africa, said management of the vaccination process had improved over time.

“I think we have made good use of the vaccines we have received. The wastage rate is very low, well within the acceptable limits. We have corrected any hiccups that we experienced or encountered. We would like to see more take up as there is vaccine hesitancy," Tufton noted.

As the country prepares to begin a national roll out of the vaccination programme over the weekend, lessons learnt from the two weekend blitzes at the National Arena, will inform how things unfold, according to the minister.

“It is not just about providing a facility and vaccines and people will come, it is also about convincing people why it is important, answering their questions and overcoming their objections and queries.”