Jamaica could receive up to 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within another two to four weeks.
“We have been advised by the COVAX Facility that the country is set to receive between 146,400 and up to 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines by mid to late February 2021,” Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton told Parliament earlier today (Tuesday, Feb 2).
The COVAX (COVID-19 Global Access) Facility brings together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society, and philanthropy to provide innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“This means that some 125,000 Jamaicans could receive vaccines by the end of February into March. Among those to receive the vaccines are our frontline workers, including our nurses and doctors and then to our vulnerable persons, chief among those are persons 60 years and older,” Tufton added.
The Minister was quick to point out that the availability of the vaccine is subject to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Use Listing and that the indicative amount is based on the current communication from the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India and SK Bioscience.
“If additional supplies under the COVAX arrangement are received, we will be able to vaccinate some 450,000 Jamaicans by the end of the year,” he noted.
At the same time, the Minister made it clear that there are several preparatory steps that must be taken for receipt of the vaccine. These steps include having the necessary indemnity and liability frameworks in place to complete the agreement directly with AstraZeneca, as well as finalising other procurement matters with the COVAX Facility management.
The move to procure the vaccine forms part of Jamaica’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 15,000 persons on the island and claimed the lives of more than 350.
Vaccination has proven an undeniable success in the public health toolkit to reduce the burden of infectious disease in Jamaica as well as globally. Immunization – the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination – has proven to be one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions ever.
Not only is vaccination tried and tested – with vaccines in use for more than 200 years – vaccinations have also led to a substantial reduction of illness and death from diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, and newborn tetanus.
Through vaccination, smallpox was declared eradicated from the world in 1980 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated. This is while vaccinations continue to save the lives of over 2 million children annually.