Jamaica Says New CDC Guidelines Do Not Apply to the Island

CDC
A sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. [Associated Press]

In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.

The new guidelines, issued on May 13, state that vaccinated Americans can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

To date, more than 154 million Americans, nearly 47% of the population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. U.S. President Joe Biden said that the announcement marked a great day in America.

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“Today is a great day for America. If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do,” he said.

The new guidance means more freedom for Jamaicans living in the United States who have been fully vaccinated. However, when they return home to Jamaica, they will still have to follow the original CDC safety protocols.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton says because of where Jamaica is at in its vaccination campaign, America’s new guidelines cannot apply to the island.

“We monitor, from a policy perspective, what happens elsewhere. But just bear in mind that countries will take decisions based on what is in their best interest and based on their particular set of circumstances,” he said during the COVID-19 weekly press conference on May 13th.

“There is a difference in what is the case in the U.S. as opposed to what is the case here. The U.S. has had a significant number of the population receiving at least the first dose. They are edging closer towards the target which they have set for themselves and have built up enough immunity in the population to protect a fairly large number of persons. They have far more vaccinated persons than we do; we’re at eight percent of the targeted population. That’s a huge difference.” Dr Tufton explained.

The health minister says that fully vaccinated persons will still need to follow all the protocols including providing a negative COVID-19 test, wearing a mask and obeying quarantine orders when coming to Jamaica.

Dr Meldoy Ennis, Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, also reiterated that the vaccine protects the person who receives it, “but there is still the likelihood of spread. The protocols are still absolutely necessary at this time because it gives us this level of assurance that our people will be protected,” she said.

Of the 1.924 million persons in the ministry’s targeted population, only 146,147 Jamaicans have received their first dose of the vaccine.

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