Head of the Caribbean Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (CITAG), Professor Peter Figueroa, has added his voice to calls for Jamaicans to support and take the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, which are to arrive in the island shortly.
On Tuesday (February 2), Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, announced that the Government has been advised by the COVAX Facility that the country is set to receive between 146,400 and 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines by mid to late February 2021.
Dr. Tufton said that citizens could begin to receive the vaccines by the end of February into March.
Addressing the Ministry’s virtual COVID Conversations town hall on Thursday (February 4), Prof. Figueroa noted that with more than two million COVID-19-related deaths globally and over 350 locally, it is important that citizens take the vaccines as soon as they become available.
Prof. Figueroa noted that vaccine trials have taken place on all continents, with hundreds of thousands of people participating in those trials, and the vaccines have proven to be “extremely safe and highly effective”.
He said that in the United States alone, more than 33 million people have already been inoculated.
“When you look at the trials and you look at the persons who were vaccinated, there were virtually no persons admitted to hospital due to COVID among persons who were vaccinated, so this is a huge opportunity for us in Jamaica,” Prof. Figueroa said.
“The vaccine has already reached the Caribbean and has been given in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, [and] Turks and Caicos. The same vaccine we are getting has now arrived in Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, so I think all of us should prepare ourselves and when our turn comes, certainly step forward and get vaccinated,” he said.
Prof. Figueroa pointed out that the Caribbean has led the globe in relation to the elimination of childhood diseases, “so our people are accustomed to vaccination,” adding that “vaccination is the most cost-effective measure in public health”.