Cabinet has approved a National COVID-19 Deployment and Vaccination Interim Plan, as the strategy and authority on the deployment of COVID-19 vaccine/vaccines in Jamaica.
The document was tabled in the House of Representatives on January 19, by Minister of Health and wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton.
The Plan outlines the overall strategies for the deployment, implementation and monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccine(s) in country. It is developed in a way that ensures alignment and integration with the national COVID-19 response and recovery programme.
In his address, Dr. Tufton said the COVID-19 pandemic is a very dynamic and fluid situation with continuous learning and new information being brought forth as to the clinical and epidemiological features of the virus and its transmission.
“Additionally, on the matter of the development of COVID-19 vaccines, there is still some uncertainty in this area, such as the type and quantity of vaccine/vaccines which may become available to Jamaica,” he said.
“Accordingly, this Plan is developed based on information which is currently available and the assumptions the Government is able to make, based on these currently available information. There will be future updates to the Plan as new information becomes available,” he added.
The National COVID-19 Deployment and Vaccination Interim Plan, 2021 covers: planning and coordination of vaccine introduction; legal and regulatory framework; phased approach of COVID-19 vaccination introduction in Jamaica; target populations and vaccination delivery strategies; human resources management and training; supply chain management; risk assessment and mitigation strategies; vaccine programme communication; vaccine safety monitoring; and COVID-19 vaccine programme monitoring and evaluation.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder governance structure has been established to lead the coordination and deployment of the COVID-19 Vaccine.
This structure, he stated, includes the previously announced establishment of a National Vaccine Commission to provide strategic and technical oversight to development and implementation of a National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for the introduction of COVID-19 Vaccines in Jamaica.
“A National Coordinating Committee (NCC) has also been established to design, plan and provide leadership to the field on all activities related to the vaccine introduction,” the Minister said.
He informed that the NCC will guide the priority actions and engage in on-going risk assessment, so as to ensure that the plan remains relevant.
“The NCC will be supported by four sub committees, the Parish Medical Officers of Health and the parish Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Coordinators. The NCC will have responsibility for providing updates on the ongoing assessment of the safety, immunogenicity, efficacy and duration of protection of candidate vaccine(s),” Dr. Tufton noted.
The plan also sets out the proposed Regulatory Approval Pathway for the emergency authorisation of COVID-19 Vaccines for use in Jamaica.
Dr. Tufton said the National Regulatory Authority, which will be responsible for overseeing the licensing and use of COVID-19 vaccines, will be the Standards and Regulation Division of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
He noted that the Division has developed an Emergency Approval Regulatory process for COVID 19 Vaccines.
“This process will include: the granting of an Emergency Use Authorisation for COVID-19 Vaccines to be used in Jamaica; and the adoption of the approach taken by the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in evaluating and assessing COVID-19 Vaccines for emergency use approval, by relying on vaccine approval by the WHO and some stringent regulatory authorities, namely the US FDA, Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency (EMA),” Dr. Tufton stated.
The application process and documentation requirements for applying for Emergency Use Authorisation, is also outlined in the Plan.