Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton, says that with more than 9,600 infections and 225 deaths related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jamaica, the use of a vaccine has to form a part of the country’s fight against the virus.
“It is for this reason that Jamaica is among the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states on whose behalf a downpayment has been made by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for equitable access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Global Access Facility (COVAX),” he said.
“There are ongoing efforts to raise the needed capital to create the cold storage capacity for COVID-19 vaccines within the region,” he noted further.
Dr. Tufton, who was addressing the Ministry’s weekly virtual COVID Conversations press conference on Thursday (November 12), said that the level of conspiracy theories about vaccines appears to have reached a new high in the last week or so, with news that a COVID-19 vaccine may shortly become available.
He insisted, however, that with more than 49.7 million people globally having become infected by COVID-19 and more than 1.2 million having lost their lives, “vaccination as a response to containing the disease cannot be overlooked”.
The Minister said he understands the concerns that persons have about the efficacy of the process, given the pace at which the various pharmaceutical companies are working to get the vaccines to market.
But at the same time, he reminded Jamaicans that vaccination has proven to be an undeniable success in the public health toolkit to reduce the burden of infectious diseases.
He noted that through the success of immunisation, Jamaica had the last case of polio in 1982, the last case of locally transmitted measles in 1991, the last case of diphtheria in 1995, the last case of rubella (German measles) in 2000 and newborn tetanus in 2001.
“Vaccination has been tried and tested and [has been] in use for more than 200 years.
“Through vaccination, smallpox was declared eradicated from the world in 1980. Through vaccination, polio is on the verge of being eradicated and vaccinations continue to save the lives of over two million children each year,” Dr. Tufton said.