However, you want to look at it, Jamaica’s vaccination programme hit a road block this past week. Depsite recent reassurances that enough doses were in available to give those needing their 2nd doses, we’ve had a week of people being told that was not so, and having scheduled appointments cancelled, pending supply arrivals.
We had chaotic scenes at the National Arena last Saturday, when people crowed outside the venue and it had to be closed early, with further doses only going to those over 50.
Part of the problem was total supply, but some problems were to do with vaccines being not distributed well across the island, with some rural sites nearly empty, according to eyewitness reports. Some wondered if JDF helicopters couldn’t have been used to help redistribute supplies over the weekend.
Unfortunately, much confusion happened as confirmed appointments were cancelled and people were struggling to rearrange their movements and policy decisions were being reversed quickly.
Ir’a not realistic for people to be online all the time and be ready to switch around at a moment’s notice. So, something will have to be done to honour commitments, within a day, at least.
I was called a week ago by RJR to talk about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ amongst Jamaica’s senior citizens. I was adamant that my view was that access was the major problem, not relucance to take vaccines (real hesitancy). I thought this was especially true in rural areas. Minister Tufton reiterated that access point, but now we will have to see the fall out from the weekend’s debacle and if it makes people less trustful of the vaccination processes and generate real hesitancy.
Minister Tufton’s ‘COVID Conversations’ on June 17 updated on the latest vaccination blitz, which has seen about 11,000 people get their 2nd doses, and just under 1,000 getting first doses. Blitz operations will continue during June 19-20. About 220,000 have had at least first doses (only 6% of total population), with 52,000 having had 2nd doses and 168,000 only had their first doses of AztraZeneca vaccines.
The Minister noted, however, that supply issues may meant curbing the vaccination drive for 2nd doses, limiting them to the most vulnerable:
This warning sits oddly, coming just days after Howard Mitchell, chair of the National Health Fund was saying we should prepare for a large influx of vaccinces imminently:
COVID trends continue to improve, with fewer cases and sharply lower positivity rates, now with a 7-day average under 10 percent:
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Chris Tufton’s ‘COVID Conversation’ last night focused on improving COVID trends, especially much lower positivity rates, and another round of vaccination blitzes, that began last weekend and will continue for the next two weekends. Particular focus is on getting second doses given; so far, some 28,000 have had second doses.
Activities at the National Arena were quieter than when we got our first doses, in early-April. Also, traffic was heavier as curfew rules had been loosened. We knew the process on arrival and we’re ushered into the main hall with 5 minutes. Forms were completed. A video was played giving vaccination advice. Then, we waited.
We arrived about 2:05 and first jab came at 2:33; my wife got the last of a batch. I waited and had my dose at 2:39. My wife was nabbed by CVMTV for a quick interview :).
By 2:55, we were on our way home and by 3:20, we were home. Now, time to take some painkillers to ward off some side effects and hope they’re minor for the next 48 hours.
Kudos to all the Ministry of Health and Wellness personnel and JDF staff who assisted in another smooth process.
Just when the USA has allocated at least 80 million doses to the rest of the world, Jamaicans can anticipate another boost to COVID vaccination. The USA will share 75% of doses with COVAX, about 19 million can go to areas worst hit by supply constraints.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness did incredibly well with a so-called “blitz” of vaccinations back in April, when they managed to get 75,000 doses…Another Jamaican COVID-19 “blitz” to get second doses done
Health and wellness minister’s ‘COVID conversation’, this evening, focused on the vaccinations push, whose push has stalled pending more supplies.
He reported that 146,000 have gotten their first doses:
Over 50s can now get their vaccine doses:
Second doses are being administered, but supplies available are still not adequate, but another 60,000 doses are due to arrive in coming weeks.
The rebroadcast of the ‘conversation’ and the overall picture of COVID infection are in the thread below:
Health and wellness minister, Dr. Chris Tufton, gave Parliament an update, yesterday, on COVID issues and the vaccination programme:
Key points are in the following Twitter thread:
Notably, the reproductive rate has fallen from about 1.3 to 0.9, indicating the chances of spread are lessening. Also, positivity rates have fallen from near 40% to about 15%.
Data show that COVID trends are improving. The vaccination programme has stalled because of the slow supply coming from COVAX.
He also addressed reports of health workers coming under attack:
Such attacks have included death threats to the chief medical officer.
This week’s ‘COVID Conversation’ press conference focused on the recent vaccination blitz:
The full video follows:
The experience was a great success, with record numbers of vaccines for a single day and targets exceeded over the 4-day period. Nearly 84,000 were vaccinated. Details were provided of the age distribution of vaccination, so far:
The minister regretted some delays or people being turned away as demand was excessive. He praised all involved for the national efforts. Health workers needed a few days’ break and must also get back to addressing other issues.
Another blitz would await securing additional vaccines. Meanwhile, vaccination would revert to the appointment system from April 19, when additional 55,000 doses from COVAX should be available.
After vaccination experience was discussed:
The CMO warned against complacency after a single vaccination dose:
We got an update on the current COVID situation, which is improving, with lower positivity rates and hospitalisation, looking at parish experiences and adverse events after vaccination:
Demand for vaccines remained high on the 4th and final day of the blitz and several main centres had to close early (around noon) because their supply was finished.
That caused some hiccups and people were unable to get vaccinated or unable to make another journey. Priority at other locations was supposed to go to those with appointments. Hopefully, appointments in coming weeks will resolve those problem.
New curfew arrangements were announced by the PM and will be in effect for the next three weekends, with shorter curfews on Saturdays and Sundays.
Jamaican flair was on display at some vaccination sites with impromptu music and performances happening.