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Children, adolescents will be given priority access to Pfizer vaccine, says Jamaica minister


Children, adolescents will be given priority access to Pfizer vaccine, says Jamaica minister
Dr Christopher Tufton. (CMC)

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Kingston – Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, says Jamaica is to receive its first shipment of 200 000 doses of Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, with children and adolescents to be given priority access.

The pending shipment represents the first tranche of approximately 600 000 doses and the government said it would bolster its COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Tufton said the Ministry will begin the administration of these vaccines on August 23 at all vaccination sites.

“We will focus on 15 years and older with parental consent as well as children 12 years and older with comorbid conditions, and that’s for the Pfizer vaccine,” he said.

The minister noted that the Pfizer vaccine has been proven to be safe and is approved for use in children and adolescents.

“The clinical assessments have been done and, as you know, we go by what the science proves. The Pfizer vaccine will now be available to a younger age cohort that is 12 and older, particularly if there are challenges with your health status and certainly 15 and older for sure. There are some special programmes that we are planning that will involve pulling both child and parent out at a location to provide that vaccine,” he noted.

Tufton said that the administration of the vaccine to children is part of the Government’s mandate to prioritise education and the reopening of schools for face-to-face instructions in the new academic year.

He indicated that the ministry will now finalise discussions with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information on the ways in which students 15 years and older, particularly those who will be sitting exit examinations, can be facilitated for early vaccination.

“We have been pitching vaccine take-up for our teachers. We will now have an opportunity to pitch and strategise and encourage vaccine take-up for students or a fairly large segment of our student population and that double approach will . . . enhance protection in the classroom. We encourage our parents and our young people to be a part of this process as we give specific details in the week to come,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Tufton said that through negotiations with the African Medical Supplies Platform, a batch of approximately 118 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive in the island next week.

“These doses will be administered at all vaccination sites beginning August 23, 2021. We expect that we will have another shipment the week after the first shipment and then next month, we will have a bigger shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” he said.

Tufton said the Government has booked and paid down on approximately 1.9 million doses of those vaccines, which will be delivered over a period of time.

“In terms of vaccine supplies, we have . . . in stock, the AstraZeneca vaccine. We are now seeing the arrival of additional brands and we did say it would happen in August . . . and it’s playing true to form. Vaccines are coming, vaccines are here, vaccines in abundance. It’s now time to get persons to take that up,” he said. (CMC)