As the world awaits the approval and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, Jamaica’s health minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton announced an increase in the number of Jamaicans that will be vaccinated when the first batch of the drug is administered.
During a press briefing two weeks ago, Tufton had said that an estimated 30,000 residents were eyed to be vaccinated, but now that number has been increased to over 200,000.
“On the vaccination arrangements, we’ve already put in place, as you know, (we have) subscribed to the group funding in order to secure a percentage of the vaccines that come on the market through PAHO/WHO (Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation). We’re entitled, based on what we’ve advanced, to 10 per cent of our population. That’s the pool scheme that we’ve subscribed to,” Tufton told said in parliament on Tuesday.
Jamaica has an estimated population of 2.9 million people. Therefore, an estimated 290,000 people are being eyed for the vaccine.
The minister also announced that the government will be establishing a vaccine committee to prepare for the “coordination of distribution” of the drug.
“In another week or two…we’ll be announcing a national COVID Vaccine Coordinating Committee which will involve members of different stakeholder groups to coordinate or begin to put in place the plans for the distributing of the vaccine once it is available,” the minister revealed.
Jamaica, like the United States and other countries around the world, is preparing for its share on the vaccines when they hit the market possibly later this year.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech firm Moderna have both said their vaccines could be ready for distribution as early as mid-December. Both companies said their vaccines are 95 per cent effective with few side effects. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is about 90 per cent effective depending on how the dosage is applied. Manufacturers said it could be ready for rollout early next year.
In South Florida, the Broward County Health Director Dr. Paula Thaqi, says the vaccine will be distributed at some of the COVID-19 testing sites in the county. Two South Florida hospitals, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Memorial Regional in Hollywood, will also store and distribute the drugs, first to healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.