Speech

Madam Speaker, I rise to bring this Honourable House an update on vaccination as an essential component of the National COVID-19 Response.

With more than 66 million people globally having become infected by the virus and more than 1.5 million having lost their lives, vaccination as a response to containing the disease cannot be overlooked.

Here in Jamaica, Madam Speaker, with more than 11,000 infections and 265 deaths, vaccination must form a part of our COVID-19 response efforts.

That being said, Madam Speaker, the issue of a COVID-19 vaccine, we know, has been a source of anxiety for some as we continue to navigate the new normal imposed by the pandemic.

My goal today is, therefore, to clarify for the Members of this Honourable House and the Jamaican public the approach of the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Government of Jamaica to the inclusion of vaccination in the National Public Health Response to a virus that has been a levithian of a challenge – not only for Jamaica but also for countries the world over.

THE COMMISSION

Madam Speaker, the first order of business has been to name a National COVID-19 Vaccine Commission, which is comprised of a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder group of persons. They include representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the National Health Fund, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Medical Association of Jamaica, the Nurses Association of Jamaica, the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, the University of the West Indies, the Jamaica Council of Churches, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Defence Force.

Madam Speaker, that Commission has been named and we had, earlier this morning, our first meeting.

The responsibilities of the Commission, Madam Speaker, include to:

 Provide guidance and oversight in the development of a National COVID-19 Deployment and Vaccination Plan for the introduction of
COVID-19 vaccines;
 Provide oversight in the designing of strategies for the deployment, implementation and monitoring of a COVID-19 vaccine(s) in Jamaica;
 Provide guidance in ensuring that the plan and related financing is well aligned to other national COVID-19 recovery and response and support plans, and that implementation is fully integrated and coordinated;
 Guide the establishment of an operations process for coordination, information and communication;
 Provide guidance in the design and implementation of a public education campaign; and
 Support the implementation of health services readiness and capacity assessments to identify bottlenecks and guide delivery of vaccines and other essential supplies.

Among other things, Madam Speaker, the Commission is also to the extent possible, facilitate cooperation at policy, technical and local levels between government, non-governmental, private sector agencies or organisation and civil society in the process of the plan’s development and implementation.

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