Jamaica Government Pushing Back Against Anti-Vax Crusaders

Jamaica chris tufton health
PHOTO: NICKIETA STERLING (JIS) Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, addresses a vaccination blitz at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland, on Sunday (April 11).

The Jamaica government says it will be redoubling its efforts to push back against anti-vaccination crusaders, who continue to affect the rollout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme.

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the anti-vaccination movement has become well-resourced and has utilised alternative media to push the narrative “that somehow vaccination is bad for you.

“There are people who discourage other people from taking the vaccine, whether in the health centre context, at home, or in the community, and some of those persons are family members. We will continue to push back against this, and we have to do a lot more to push back,” Tufton said.

The government last weekend launched its COVID-19 vaccination blitz that will continue until Tuesday. Preliminary reports for islandwide vaccination on Sunday have shown that 18,345 persons got their first dose of the AstraZeneca Vaccine.

The authorities said this represents an increase of 5,857 persons when compared to the previous day.

The Health and Wellness Minister said that much of the hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine is due to misinformation, which the Ministry intends to surmount with greater public awareness.

“The vaccine hesitancy is emerging as one of the bigger challenges that we face… I am hoping that all well-thinking Jamaicans will rationalise and reason that Jamaica has been vaccinating its population for the last number of years and nothing is wrong with us, clearly,” he said.

“I don’t think we should start questioning our vaccine programme here and now,” he added, noting

Tufton said that the government continues to partner with several stakeholders, including the church and political representatives, to assist in getting persons vaccinated.

“We have engaged the church, we have engaged the Members of Parliament, our councillors, our civic groups to get a national movement going because, in the end, it is really about how we respond to what is a major threat to our population, as it is to the world,” he noted.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is continuing to vaccinate persons 40 years and older who suffer from one or more comorbid conditions; persons 50 years and older; members of the public who are employed to the transport sector; tourism workers; teachers and other employees of educational institutions; media and staff members from the Department of Correctional Services, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), and Jamaica Customs Agency.

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