Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring that no one will be allowed to interfere with the impending coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination process for Jamaicans.
“All our Ministers, all our political personnel have been directed that they must not interfere in the established schedule of inoculation. Nobody must call any Minister or any political figure to jump the line for vaccination. I am very clear on that. If it comes to my attention, there will be serious action,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness, who was speaking during a virtual press conference from the Office of the Prime Minister Media Centre on February 28, said this assertion is in keeping with the principle of transparency, which is one of three fundamental principles Cabinet has agreed will guide the process. The others are equity and efficiency.
“The public must be assured that there is no favouritism in vaccination. So, once the [Health] Minister and his team, meaning the Permanent Secretary, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the other hard-working officials of the Ministry of Health [and Wellness] determine what that vaccination schedule and priority is, then nobody should try to circumvent the process…that cannot work,” he emphasised.
In terms of the principle of efficiency, the Prime Minister informed that this relates to the manner in which the Government will administer the vaccination.
“If we offer you the vaccine and you don’t take it, then we will move to the next person, because we cannot leave it there waiting on you – the vaccine will spoil on us and we lose that money. So, we are going to find the most efficient path of delivering the vaccine,” he said.
Mr. Holness further noted that the vaccines will be delivered on a basis of equity, “meaning that those who need it the most, those who are most vulnerable, these are the persons who should receive it first”.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister is again assuring the nation that the Government has sought to ensure the selection of only safe and approved vaccines for Jamaica.
The Government’s mandate is to identify and source 3.5 million doses of vaccines by March 2021 to administer to approximately 65 per cent of the Jamaican population.
Providing further details, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, disclosed that Jamaica is expected to receive the 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated by the Government of India, on or before Thursday of this week.
In addition, through the country’s arrangement with the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, another 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered to the island on or before March 11.
The COVAX Facility was designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate, safe, and effective vaccines, and other modalities and arrangements.
“This supply represents the first instalment of a total allocation of some 124,800 doses of vaccine under the COVAX arrangement in the first instance. The other allocations in that first batch, we expect between now and May,” he said.
Minister Tufton further informed that the allocation under the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, “another avenue that we have been working on, and involving CARICOM, has been approved for a total of 1.8 million doses of vaccines to be supplied to Jamaica starting in April”.