JIS News

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Government will be redoubling its efforts to push back against anti-vaccination crusaders, who continue to affect the rollout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme.

He said the anti-vaccination movement has become well resourced and has utilised alternative media to push the narrative “that somehow vaccination is bad for you”.

“There are people who discourage other people from taking the vaccine, whether in the health centre context, at home, or in the community, and some of those persons are family members. We will continue to push back against this, and we have to do a lot more to push back,” Dr. Tufton said.

He was speaking with journalists following a visit to the COVID-19 vaccination blitz at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on Sunday (April 11), where more than 1,000 persons received the first of two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The event was part of the Ministry’s four-day islandwide vaccination exercise, which continues until Tuesday (April 13).

Dr. Tufton argued that much of the hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine is due to misinformation, which the Ministry intends to surmount with greater public awareness.

“The vaccine hesitancy is emerging as one of the bigger challenges that we face… I am hoping that all well-thinking Jamaicans will rationalise and reason that Jamaica has been vaccinating its population for the last number of years and nothing is wrong with us, clearly,” he said.

“I don’t think we should start questioning our vaccine programme here and now,” he added, noting that vaccines save as many as two million lives worldwide per year.

Dr. Tufton said that the Government continues to partner with several stakeholders, including the church and political representatives, to assist in getting persons vaccinated.

“We have engaged the church, we have engaged the Members of Parliament, our councillors, our civic groups to get a national movement going because, in the end, it is really about how we respond to what is a major threat to our population, as it is to the world,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said he is pleased with the progress of the vaccination blitz in Westmoreland, with reports of an increase in the vaccine take-up as more categories of persons are added to the group of Jamaicans who can be vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is continuing to vaccinate persons 40 years and older who suffer from one or more comorbid conditions; persons 50 years and older; members of the public who are employed to the transport sector; tourism workers; teachers and other employees of educational institutions; media and staff members from the Department of Correctional Services, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), and Jamaica Customs Agency.

Members of the public who fall in any of these categories can register to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by using the online portal on the Ministry’s website at www.moh.gov.jm; calling the National Vaccination Hotline at 888-ONE-LOVE (888-663-5683) or register on spot at one of the blitz sites across the island.

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