Thu | Jan 27, 2022

Lockdown blamed for low vax turnout in St James

Published:Monday | September 6, 2021 | 12:09 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
St James residents waiting their turn for COVID-19 vaccination at John Rollins Success Primary School in Rose Hall, St James, on Sunday.
St James residents waiting their turn for COVID-19 vaccination at John Rollins Success Primary School in Rose Hall, St James, on Sunday.


Despite efforts to get St James residents out in large numbers for Sunday’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, approximately 60 persons got their shots at John Rollins Success Primary School in Rose Hall.

That number was fewer than a third the take-up numbers forecast by health officials.

The parish blitz, which began on August 30, saw just over 20 persons at a time waiting to get their jab on Sunday. However, the vaccination process itself went relatively smoothly when it began at 10 a.m.

Dr Tanique Bailey-Small, acting medical officer of health for St James, theorised that the imposition of lockdown restrictions on Sunday, the first of a round of six no-movement days, running until September 14, was the factor behind the “moderate” turnout.

“We were really looking to see more persons, but we do acknowledge that today is a lockdown day, and some persons may not necessarily have been able to come out,” said Bailey-Small, adding that around 200 people were targeted.

The lockdown will continue September 6-7 and from the 12th to the 14th.

Despite Sunday’s low turnout, Bailey-Small said that the St James Health Department will continue its efforts to address vaccine hesitancy at the grass-roots level. To date, 9,000 persons in the parish have taken their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine since it was made available. Approximately 45,000 persons in St James have been inoculated so far.

“We are still having some vaccine hesitancy, but we are seeing that there is an uptick at this time. We continue our sensitisation sessions; we log on to different forums; and we are having discussions with the parents, plus going into the communities and having one-on-one discussions,” Bailey-Small added.

As at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker indicated that a total of 560,898 doses have been administered, with 146,642 persons, or five per cent of the population, fully vaccinated.

Bishop Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James, who was on hand to observe the vaccination proceedings, applauded residents who got vaccinated on Sunday.

“I really am impressed by what I see today, and also what I heard about yesterday (Saturday). I want to congratulate you on this very important move, as the only way we are going to stop the spread of this virus in Jamaica, and across the world, is that most of our population must be vaccinated,” Pitkin told the residents.

St James has consistently had the third-highest number of COVID-19 infections across Jamaica, with 7,116 infections recorded as at Saturday out of the country’s total of 71,344 infections, behind Kingston and St Andrew’s 18,196 cases and St Catherine’s 12,990.

St James is also the parish with the highest number of infections under the Western Regional Health Authority’s jurisdiction, ahead of Westmoreland’s 4,393, Trelawny’s 2,598, and Hanover’s 2,361.