JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica, on Friday (July 30), received its largest shipment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to date, with a donation of 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the Government of the United Kingdom (UK).
  • High Commissioner Ahmad, in his remarks, noted that “[as] a public servant, there is nothing finer that we can do, than to do something that saves lives”, noting that the donation of the 300,000 vaccines “is something extraordinary”.
  • Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said the UK’s gesture represented a “major breakthrough” for the public health system, and, by extension, the Government “in our drive to respond to COVID-19 through the vaccination programme.”

Jamaica, on Friday (July 30), received its largest shipment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to date, with a donation of 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the Government of the United Kingdom (UK).

The vaccines, which arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston aboard a British Airways flight at approximately 4:20 p.m., will be deployed to public health institutions islandwide to further bolster the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, and UK High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, headed officials who were on hand to receive the vaccines.

The shipment is the UK’s first to any country globally under a commitment given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a Group of Seven (G7) nations meeting in June.

Mr. Holness said that the arrival of the vaccines on Friday marked a “wonderful day in our bilateral relations”, describing the European nation as a “longstanding friend and partner”.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, I want to express our gratitude to the Government and people of the United Kingdom for this gift which is a symbol of our strong relationship. I also want to specially acknowledge the work of High Commissioner Ahmad in ensuring that this gift of vaccines materialised at the time that it has,” he added.

Mr. Holness also commended Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, and Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who were also at the airport, for their roles and those of their support teams in ensuring that vaccines deployed to Jamaica have arrived and are dispatched safely.

High Commissioner Ahmad, in his remarks, noted that “[as] a public servant, there is nothing finer that we can do, than to do something that saves lives”, noting that the donation of the 300,000 vaccines “is something extraordinary”.

“But this is not the end. At the end of this year, we will send another significant shipment of vaccines to Jamaica and other friends around the world. I urge everybody here to take advantage of this donation [and] have a very simple message to our friends in Jamaica… get the [jab],” he said.

For her part, Senator Johnson Smith said that the Government is pleased that its UK counterparts deemed it fit to donate the vaccines.

“The UK is not only a strong and historical bilateral partner, but certainly, a critical Commonwealth friend and one with whom we engage on developmental issues on a consistent basis,” she noted.

Senator Johnson Smith also thanked High Commissioner Ahmad and UK Minister Tariq Ahmad, who has responsibility for relations with the Caribbean and Commonwealth, for their roles in facilitating the vaccine donation.

“We commend the UK for following through on their promise, just issued in June this year, to the G7 to ensure that nine million vaccines are donated globally, bilaterally and through [the] COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said the UK’s gesture represented a “major breakthrough” for the public health system, and, by extension, the Government “in our drive to respond to COVID-19 through the vaccination programme.”

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