Jamaica’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine supply is slated to further increase in the coming weeks, after recently experiencing a shortage of shots.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that another shipment is expected to arrive in the island this month (July) under the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.
He noted as well that the first shipment of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines is expected in August.
Jamaica is among at least seven countries that are slated to receive nearly 2.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.
The facility is designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate safe and efficacious vaccines.
Dr. Tufton, who was addressing the weekly COVID Conversations virtual press briefing on July 1, informed that discussions continue, as the Government is pursuing several avenues for the supply of vaccines.
“We are discussing, negotiating other vaccine supplies and I am more confident now than I would have been two months ago that we will have additional supplies in due course,” he said.
He assured that the vaccines being procured by the Government are among those approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“It may not be the same AstraZeneca although we know we will get AstraZeneca. It may be a different brand, but a brand that is WHO-approved and clearly would have been in the global population and is being used, tried, tested and proven,” he said.
“There are discussions with the United States (US) through CARICOM, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) involving the Ministry of Health and Wellness, [and the Ministry of] Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and those discussions are progressing. We are hopeful that decisions, logistical arrangements and deliveries will take place in a relatively short period of time,” Dr. Tufton said.
He noted that once the supplies are received, greater emphasis will be placed on minimising vaccine hesitancy in the population.
“I do think that in the months to come, we’re going to have to focus on how we deal with hesitancy, meaning we will probably have the supplies and we are now going to have to convince Jamaicans who are not sure why it is important to take the vaccines,” he said.