The Government has reallocated $48.7 million of the funds budgeted for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine risk mitigation programme to hire additional health staff and improve conditions for workers.
Speaking at a COVID Conversations press conference on Tuesday (February 23), Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that the adjustments were made in light of public concerns regarding the budget and the surge in hospitalisations resulting from the virus.
Dr. Tufton informed that the $64.3 million for placement of advertisements on radio and television has been reduced to $50 million, while the $36.2 million for the printing of materials such as brochures and pamphlets for dissemination has been reduced to $26.2 million.
In addition, the $27.8 million allocated for public education sessions has been reduced to $20 million and the vaccination training session for staff that was assigned $19.3 million, is now down to $14.33 million.
He noted, as well, that that the $36.2 million budget for research has been reduced by $6 million.
Dr. Tufton further informed that the $22 million initially budgeted for engaging the consulting firm, One Integrated, for 12 months, has been reduced to $16.49 million for nine months, resulting in savings of $5.5 million.
“In total, we have pulled out a number of the line items that are contained in the vaccine risk mitigation segment of the budget and have, therefore, reallocated or are in a position to reallocate some $48.7 million… to engaging more staff and supporting where necessary, staff motivation and activation in the COVID fight,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister dismissed reports that the Government had planned to spend $422 million on communication.
“There was never any $422 million based on what I saw and enquired about, after it was carried in the public space, which was assigned to communication,” he said.