More than one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered in Jamaica, the health and wellness ministry revealed yesterday, and the development has pleased Dr Christopher Tufton, who commended health-care workers and Jamaicans who got inoculated.
At the same time, Dr Tufton, the health and wellness minister, reiterated his call for Jamaicans who have not yet taken the vaccine to do so.
“It is an encouraging achievement in terms of doses administered. It is clearly an indication that even though the progress is less than we would like, we are making some progress in advancing the take up of vaccines. There is a lot of effort towards this, and for that I want to commend the nurses, doctors, the front line staff,” Dr Tufton told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“I also think it is important to recognise those Jamaicans who have actually taken the time to go out and to get vaccinated. One million doses doesn’t mean one million people — some would have had double doses, some single [doses] and, of course, the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine would have had a single completive dose,” he added.
Addressing those who have not yet taken the vaccine, he said, “We want to continue to encourage others who should, by now, accept that those of us who have taken it are not worse off and indeed are better because the vaccine is what we use to protect you from being hospitalised and even dying of the virus.”
Yesterday, the ministry, noting that it had set November 30 as the target date for the administration of one million doses, said that at 2:30 pm, the country distributed a total of 1,000,455 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Of that number, 553,341 were first doses, 391,782 were second doses and 55,333 were single doses.
Tufton pointed out that, over the last few months there has been an increase in the number of vaccination outlets. He also said the community outreach efforts have improved through the house-to-house vaccination programme.
The push for more vaccine uptake is being done in an attempt to have 65 per cent of the population vaccinated by March 2022.
Yesterday, the health minister told the Observer that about 23 per cent of the targeted population have now been fully vaccinated, while the number of people who have received one dose so far is close to 30 per cent.
At the same time, he said that there is a strong take-up of the second doses of Pfizer vaccines, a fresh shipment of which arrived in the island recently.
“It has been the dominant brand since the shipment has arrived, and has been administered to second dosers. In a sense, we expected it because we had nearly over 80,000 people waiting. We have seen the manifestation at the vaccination sites. I was at the National Arena yesterday [Saturday] and there was a good turnout. But we have also seen consistent take-up of the others — J&J and AstraZeneca,” he said.
Last Wednesday Jamaica received 204,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the United States Government and through the Government’s paid arrangement with the COVAX facility.