Jamaica to Get Over 200,000 Doses of Pfizer Vaccine from United States

by Sheri-Kae McLeod

tufton jamaica
PHOTO: MICHAEL SLOLEY Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (second left), emphasises a point during the virtual COVID Conversations press conference on August 12. Listening (from left) are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dunstan Bryan; Chief Medical Officer, Jacquiline Bisasor- McKenzie; and Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry, Dr. Melody Ennis.

Jamaican youth will be given priority for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only shot approved for kids under the age of 18, when 200,000 doses arrive on the island on Tuesday.

The United States is donating the shots as part of President Biden’s commitment to sharing America’s vaccine surplus with the world. The 200,000 doses if the first of a series of shipments from the United States to Jamaica. The island is to get a total of 600,000 vaccines from the U.S.

According to Jamaica’s health minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, Jamaicans 15 years and older will get first dibs when the vaccines arrive on August 17. Children 12 years old and older with comorbidities will also be targeted with the two-dose vaccine.

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“We will focus on 15 years and older with parental consent as well as children 12 years and older with comorbid conditions and that’s for the Pfizer vaccine,” he said.

“The clinical assessments have been done and as you know, we go by what the science proves. The Pfizer vaccine will now be available to a younger age cohort that is 12 and older, particularly if there are challenges with your health status and certainly 15 and older for sure,” he informed.

Dr Tufton said he would also be working with the ministry of education to vaccinate senior high school students on the island. This is to ensure that those students, who will sit exit exams next year will be able to resume face-to-face classes.

“We have been pitching vaccine take-up for our teachers. We will now have an opportunity to pitch and strategise and encourage vaccine take-up for students or a fairly large segment of our student population and that double approach will…enhance protection in the classroom. We encourage our parents and our young people to be a part of this process as we give specific details in the week to come,” he said.

The health minister said the government is also looking to create initiatives that will bring out both parents and children to get vaccinated. Dr. Tufton has encouraged Jamaican parents to take advantage of the donation of the Pfizer vaccine, by allowing their children to get vaccinated.

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