MoBay mayor urges councillors to get vaccinated
Montego Bay Mayor Leeroy Williams says councillors in the St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) who have not yet taken the COVID-19 vaccine are undermining their own authority as community leaders.
“I do not know how many councillors in here are not yet vaccinated, but I just want to say that as councillors, we are leaders in our community and we need to lead by example. If you are my leader, and if you are to get yourself vaccinated and you do not do that, why should I put a lot of trust in you?” asked Williams, in addressing last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the StJMC.
The mayor was responding to a declaration by Government Senator Charles Sinclair, the councillor for the Montego Bay North East division, who insisted that councillors must be leaders in the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ongoing drive to inoculate the population against the coronavirus.
“They say the councillor is with the community from the womb to the tomb, and people come to us for almost everything. As councillors, we must lead from the front in this fight against COVID, and whoever must be vaccinated must go and get vaccinated,” Sinclair said in the meeting.
Sinclair’s stance was endorsed by Michael Troupe, the councillor for the Granville division and minority leader in the StJMC, who told the meeting that he personally knows many persons who have fallen victim to the coronavirus.
“We as councillors and leaders have to do all that is possible to encourage all those persons that we can encourage to take the vaccine. I have never seen so many people that I know dropping because they failed to protect themselves,” said Troupe.
St James has consistently been identified as the parish with the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases nationally. As of Thursday, St James has recorded 7,419 of Jamaica’s total 74,645 cases, behind Kingston and St Andrew’s 18,784 cases and St Catherine’s 13,519 cases.
St James is also the parish with the highest number of cases under the Western Regional Health Authority’s umbrella, ahead of Westmoreland’s 4,540 cases, Trelawny’s 2,754 cases, and Hanover’s 2,463 cases.The mayor also blamed vaccine hesitancy for the slow pace at which the Ministry of Health’s ongoing islandwide vaccination drive is currently progressing.
“From the onset, vaccine hesitancy has been like an albatross (restriction) around the neck of the Government because, despite the proven effectiveness of the vaccines, Jamaicans from all strata of society have been hesitant to take the jab,” said Williams. “Vaccine hesitancy can be blamed on persons not taking full advantage of the information which is out there, and it can be attributed to people just being difficult or being what we call ‘hard ears’.”
Earlier this month, the ministry announced that it was targeting 700,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to be administered by the end of September. According to the ministry’s vaccination website, as at Friday there have been 613,962 total doses administered, to include 460,083 first doses, 141,518 second doses, and 12,361 single doses.