Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, greets a vaccinated tourism worker during a visit to the Tourism Vaccination Task Force’s COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz, held at Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Friday, September 3.
Photo: Okoye Henry

Workers in the Tourism industry are calling on Jamaicans to mobilise themselves and participate  in  the Government’s national coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme.

Hundreds of tourism workers, their families and friends turned out at the Tourism Vaccination Task Force’s COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz, held at Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on September 3.

The Ministry of Tourism, in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), collaborated in the event, which forms part of a national initiative to expedite the vaccination of 150,000 workers in the industry over the next eight weeks in major resort towns.

Moon Palace worker, Tony McPherson, shared his experience on the day, having received his jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I was a little bit nervous and kind of scared, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I said to myself ‘just give it a try and get it over with’. They (nurses and doctors) basically motivated me. I felt comfortable, I wasn’t afraid again and I took my shot,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. McPherson was apprehensive about taking the vaccine, noting that he had been hearing all types of  “doom and gloom” news surrounding the inoculation.

He, however, took note of the increase in the rate of infection across the country and decided to counter by stepping up to improve the vaccination rate.

“Is [nearly] two years it (COVID-19) has been here and the longer it is here, the more difficult and harder it is to live with. So, I feel it is the right thing to do, because at the end of the day, I want to protect my family and my friends,” Mr. McPherson adds.

He says he feels fantastic after taking the jab and is encouraging every well-thinking Jamaican to “save a life, save your life [and] save others. Just do the right thing”.

For Craft Vendor, Valerie Turner, COVID-19 has not made life easy for her plying her trade. The rampant spread of the virus has disrupted her livelihood and now, the only way for her and the country to recover is through vaccination.

“It is not wonderful at all. Ship come and we don’t even see one thing from the ship. So, yes it affects me. So, the more persons [take the vaccine] the better, because the place will open up and, probably, we will start to see the guests [again],” Ms. Turner says.

“[Also], I want to protect myself because this thing is serious, and the coronavirus is real,” she adds.

Ms. Turner says she personally knows many people who have taken the vaccine and they remain strong and healthy adults today.

She is urging persons to do their own research, while adhering to the safety protocols for a more COVID-free Jamaica.

Husband and wife, Duncan and Janet Black, emphasise the need for Jamaicans to be fully vaccinated.

Most Jamaicans should be willing to take the vaccination and by taking it, it will not be a matter of getting rid of [COVID-19), but we will minimise the amount of people who will have it, meaning less death and less sickness,” Mr. Black argues.

“Those who are in the hospital right now are the people who haven’t taken the vaccine. So, if you can save yourself from going into the hospital and dying, it is best to take the vaccine,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Black says if persons want to increase their chance of living and avoid hospitalisation, then the best course of action is inoculation.

She admits that she was fearful at first about taking the jab and adopted a “wait and see attitude towards taking it.” However, Mrs. Black says she now knows that it is the civil thing to do.

“Seeing how the death rate is climbing, it is alarming, so the best thing is to take the vaccine,  so at least you can stop the worrying and you don’t have to end up in the hospital.  You will be more relaxed [after] taking the vaccine,” she says.

More than 2,000 tourism workers were vaccinated at several strategic blitz sites, organised under the new Tourism Vaccination Task Force, in its first three days of major activities, with the first being held on August 30.

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