Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that the Government will ensure that any coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine that is made available to Jamaicans is safe.
He said that citizens will be able to access any future vaccine free of cost.
“Once a vaccine is available [and] we look at it, we study it, and we conclude it is safe, then we will make it available to all who would want the vaccine,” the Prime Minister said while addressing a virtual press conference on Tuesday (September 22).
Mr. Holness pointed out that Jamaica has been very conservative and cautious in approving and using new medicines, vaccines, and tests, noting that the Ministry of Health and Wellness strictly follows the guidelines of the top global health organisations.
“Our health professionals… maintain a very high standard and they also align their approvals with that of the highest authorities on these matters of the world – the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). So we are not taking any risks with the health of our people,” he assured.
Mr. Holness informed that Jamaica is a part of the WHO’s COVID-19 Global Access Facility, commonly called COVAX, which is designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate, safe, and effective vaccines.
“There is no mystery about Jamaica’s participation in the Global Access Facility where over a hundred other countries in the world are participating… . We are… citizens of the world, and we too should have fair and equitable access to the vaccines that are tried, tested and proven to save lives and, therefore, Jamaica’s Government has a duty to ensure that we are well placed in the line to get such a vaccine should it become available, so that you can be safe,” he stressed.
He noted that the Government will be engaging in a public education campaign “to demystify and to place all the facts on the table” regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
“Vaccines work when you have a high percentage of persons taking the vaccines. So there has to be a high level of public education to get people to understand the risks and the safety dividend that you get from taking that vaccine, so that you can make conscious decisions about your own health and security,” Mr. Holness said.
He encouraged citizens to do their own research in relation to vaccines and not be swayed by bogus information.
“I encourage the population in this time of a pandemic to be careful of the information you consume – not all the information that is out there is designed for your benefit and you must always question why this information is being sent to you. This is now the age of what we call information literacy. You are going to be bombarded with all kinds of information… [and] not everything that you consume informationally is true. You must question it, and seek your own information as well,” the Prime Minister advised.