Phased introduction of vaccine will ensure adequate immune system response — Health Ministry

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dunstan Bryan, says the Government’s phased approach in administering the COVID-19 vaccine will facilitate a period of adjustment as the immune system responds to the vaccine and builds protection against the virus.

He said the approach will ensure that critical services are not compromised during the period of inoculation. 

“A very important part of our prioritisation process is the fact that sometimes, in some individuals, when they receive the vaccine and their bodies begin to mount a response, they begin to feel unwell for up to 24 to 48 hours. So we can’t vaccinate everyone in a particular area… in one go,” he explained.

“We have to stagger that vaccination because persons may become unwell and may be required to stay home and, therefore, it compromises service delivery,” he added.

The permanent secretary was outlining details of the COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan, during the Ministry’s virtual COVID Conversations press briefing today.

Approximately 25,000 healthcare workers (clinical and administrative staff) will receive the vaccine in the first phase.

It is estimated that 5,600 people across critical areas of government and those staff considered “high contact groups” will also be vaccinated.

These include the Governor-General; Cabinet Ministers; members of parliament; senators; heads of government ministries, departments and agencies; judges; parish councillors, and service level public sector workers who interact with the public and are, therefore, at high risk.

The first phase will also target people 60 years and older; members of the Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Jamaica Constabulary Force; people who work in early-childhood, primary and secondary schools (private and public); and members of the Department of Correctional Services, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, and Jamaica Customs.

In the second phase, essential workers from the hotel, transportation, manufacturing, banking, agricultural and public sectors will be vaccinated. The general population will be inoculated in the third phase of the plan.