Tufton foresees issues in vaccine take-up
Cognisant that many persons tend to be sceptical about taking vaccines, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the state would have to devise a workable strategy to guide its roll-out of COVID-19 shots when they become available.
Jamaica has paid for vaccines for 10 per cent of its population -- about 300,000 citizens -- and two vaccine committees have been formed to guide its distribution throughout the population.
The minister said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has a plan to manage the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine into the country. He said that this will "help to push and gain public confidence in the process and also of the vaccine and take-up of the vaccine, which I foresee, may be an issue because of the perceptions around a vaccine so early after COVID has been discovered, and the distractions around whether or not it is healthy and whether it will create more harm than good".
Public health experts say that multiple successful vaccines would be needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 1.4 million people worldwide since it was discovered a year ago. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech have already sought approval to begin vaccinations in the US in December. Rival Moderna said Monday it was asking US and European regulators to allow the use of its vaccine.
Tufton said that there are 11 vaccine trials currently taking place and that his ministry wants to be in a position to manage the distribution of the vaccine and ensure that those who "need it most will get access".
"We do believe, and this is based on our expert advice from PAHO/WHO (Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation) that by the end of the first quarter of next year, March, that we should see approved vaccines being distributed, and certainly going into the summer months of next year, there should be mass distribution," Tufton said.
Jamaica, as of Monday, had 10,810 confirmed cases, 258 of which have resulted in deaths. There are more than 4,040 active cases on the island.