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Jamaica gets first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines


Jamaica gets first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right), stands in front of the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. From left are Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith; India’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Rungsung Masakui and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton. (CMC)

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Kingston – Jamaica received its first shipment of 50 000 doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines on Monday.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, donated by the Government of India, arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport where Prime Minister Andrew Holness accepted the shipment from India’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Rungsung Masakui.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness also expects some 14 400 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines by Thursday.

Another 1.8 million doses are to be supplied to Jamaica, starting in April, under the African Medical Supply platform.

The Government has indicated that it has the resources to secure vaccines for some two million Jamaicans.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton recently encouraged residents to take the vaccines when they become available, saying that only safe vaccines will be acquired and distributed to the population.

“We are confident, very confident that we took the right decision from the start to await vaccines that were approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and have gone through appropriate levels of trials and write-ups.

“Therefore, we can say with confidence that the vaccines that we will get will be safe and will offer the protection that we expect, based on all those trials,” he said.

He said the Government has set a target to vaccinate 65 per cent of the population, with priority placed on the most vulnerable.

The vaccination process will be undertaken in three phases. The first phase will include vulnerable groups, the second will be essential workers, and the third will be the general public.

“We ask for the public’s cooperation, particularly in the early stages when not everybody will be entitled and there will be some enthusiasm among some who may want it early. We are committed to equity in the distribution, along the lines of the priorities,” Tufton said.

“We want to discourage those who may feel that they have a right, even though it is not their time as yet, because we also have to manage the crowding effect on the locations where the vaccine will be made available.

“So, the scheduling is very important; otherwise, we could be spreading the virus in a place where we are trying to prevent the virus, and that is not something that we would like to happen,” he said. (CMC)