Sat | Oct 16, 2021

Overwhelming response to Jamaica Broilers Group vaccination drive

Close to 900 people get COVID-19 vaccines in two days

Published:Monday | August 30, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Jennifer Chin (second left standing), an employee of Best Dressed Chicken with (from left) Constable Kemar James, Superintendent Mark Harris and Corporal Layton Hutchinson, after they got their vaccine at the Best Dressed Chicken vaccination drive.
Jennifer Chin (second left standing), an employee of Best Dressed Chicken with (from left) Constable Kemar James, Superintendent Mark Harris and Corporal Layton Hutchinson, after they got their vaccine at the Best Dressed Chicken vaccination drive.
Nurse Tashia Allwood Carr (right) administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Oraine Manning, while Danah Cameron, (centre standing), group public relations manager at Best Dressed Chicken, looks on.
Nurse Tashia Allwood Carr (right) administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Oraine Manning, while Danah Cameron, (centre standing), group public relations manager at Best Dressed Chicken, looks on.
Nurse Nickesha Fowler Holdham (right) administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Lisa Grant while Ava Sinclair (centre), regional marketing manager at Best Dressed Chicken, looks on.
Nurse Nickesha Fowler Holdham (right) administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Lisa Grant while Ava Sinclair (centre), regional marketing manager at Best Dressed Chicken, looks on.
Jennifer Chin of Best Dressed Chicken with Superintendent Mark Harris after he got his vaccine.
Jennifer Chin of Best Dressed Chicken with Superintendent Mark Harris after he got his vaccine.
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The Jamaica Broilers Group pulled out all the stops last Friday and Saturday to get as many of its employees and members of their families, as well as other community members, vaccinated during the start of its two-day vaccination drive at the Spring Village Training Institution, Spring Village, St Catherine.

The group-wide operation saw a network of buses picking up people who had registered via an app or used its satellite registration points to sign up for the vaccination. Even as torrential showers threatened to put a damper on Friday’s activities, the pre-planning by Jamaica Broilers paid off with people coming out, despite the rain and flooding of roads in some areas.

“We have been out here from before 7 o’clock and started scheduling people for 8 o’clock. The rain has been a challenge, but people have been pushing through and we are very grateful for it,” Group Public Relations Manager, Danah Cameron, said.

Senior Public Health Nurse Marlene Stephenson, who was overseeing operations, spoke with The Gleaner.

“Things are going smoothly,” she said. “They were a little slow but now with the rain easing, people are coming out. It is because of the weather (last Friday) the numbers are not what we are looking for, but tomorrow is another day and with the rains easing, I know more persons will be coming out tomorrow.”

Nurse Stephenson pointed out that they had advertised that the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines would be available.

“With the Pfizer, we are focusing on the children. Last weekend we gave it to adults and children, today we are focusing on the children with the Pfizer, and the AstraZeneca for the adults.”

Even though it was early in the day, Nurse Stephenson said she had picked up on a pattern of grandparents taking their grandchildren to get vaccinated and using the opportunity to get vaccinated themselves. She also noticed that the number of women who had turned up far outnumbered the men.

INTERNAL APP SIGN-UP

The Spring Village Training Institute is in the vicinity of the Best Dressed processing plant and the group encouraged their staff, as well as their family members, to sign up for the vaccination via an internal app, while those without access to phone could sign a registration form.

Cameron said: “We saw the opportunity not just for the benefit of our staff, but for the community as well, to make the vaccine not just available but accessible. So that’s the primary reason. Of course, a primary part of this initiative is to get our staff vaccinated, and so we created an app and people have signed up online. Those who don’t have access to phones with data, we set up registration points at certain locations.

“Those who were not able to organise transportation for themselves, we asked them to indicate that on the registration form as well, and made arrangements to collect them from their various locations, including family members, where they were having difficulties. Of course, we are not looking just to vaccinate our staff. We are looking to protect the entire network, the entire chain, and our community is a big part of that for us.”

People came from Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon and St Ann as well, drawn from the company’s feed mill at Old Harbour, its McCook’s Pen corporate headquarters, White Marl location/Hi-Pro hatchery and the Best Dressed Processing Plant in Spring Village.

Deputy superintendent of police in charge of the St Catherine South Police Division, Mark Harris, was among the scores of people who got vaccinated.

Harris said that he was setting an example for the staff under his command, admitting that some of them were weighing their options in terms of which vaccine to take, but most had definitely made up their mind to take it.

“I think it is very important, and it is the right time for me to take this vaccine based on what is happening in the country, and I think that this will prevent or assist me in getting rid of the COVID, if I should ever catch it,” Harris said.

Monica Mighty, a 74-year-old retired employee who worked at the nearby processing plant, was returning to her home “just down the road” in Spring Village in the company of her daughter, Antonnette Risden. Mighty worked for the company for 24 years.

Risden said that after being turned away at a vaccination site in Old Harbour some time ago, her mom had got turned off from the idea. However, when this offer came up, her sisters who live abroad, as well as those in Jamaica, prevailed upon her, and Mighty decided that it was too good an offer to turn down, given the proximity and ease of access and finally agreed, to the relief of her daughter and other close relatives.

A total of 894 people were vaccinated on Friday and Saturday – 258 vaccines were administered on Friday, and 616 people got vaccinated on Saturday.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com