Jamaica’s Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton announced that after September 10, the first-dose administration of the Pfizer coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine will be suspended.
But insisted that the measure is as a result of the non-arrival of the second shipment of the vaccine from the United States.
He said that the suspension is to ensure that there is sufficient supply to administer the second dose to persons who will become due shortly.
“The reason for this approach is because we have not yet confirmed the arrival date of the second shipment of Pfizer vaccines from the United States (US),” Tufton said.
“We’re awaiting word from the United States [and] we are hoping that the confirmation date will not be long,” he said, noting that the Ministry will resume administering first doses once an arrival date is established.
Children between the ages of 12 and 18 years have been prioritised to receive this brand of vaccine and Tufton said that the Ministry has already contacted persons who are due their second dose, which will be administered this weekend.
Earlier this week, Tufton denied reports circulating on asocial media here that the US manufactured Pfizer vaccines being used as part of the national vaccination programme would have expired on Wednesday night.
“The Pfizer vaccines have an (expiration) date that goes straight into the next few months, I think, so there is no issue there,” he said, noting that the expiry dates for the Pfizer vaccines are “in the coming months,” even as he failed to provide an exact date.
Meanwhile, more than 40,000 students have, so far, received their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
Education, Youth and Information Minister, Fayval Williams, said that the vaccine take-up by students is “going very well” and that she is optimistic that “we are going to get way more students vaccinated”, as more school plants are added as vaccination sites.
“We will be using our school nurses [to assist with the vaccination process] and we have almost 200 school nurses, so we are right now just planning the rollout of that,” she told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
Williams said that the ministry is targeting a vaccination rate of at least 65 per cent to facilitate a resumption of face-to-face classes.
“We have a responsibility… to bring our students back to the face-to-face environment as safely as we can and, at this point in the pandemic, having our students vaccinated is the safest way. I am particularly talking about our secondary-school students because, as you know, our primary-school students, who are below the age of 12, there is no vaccination available for them [as] yet,” she noted.
She said that for those students who are not vaccinated, the ministry will still continue to offer all remote-learning modalities – online or computer-aided, printed learning kits, and audio/visual [platforms] “so nobody will be denied [an] education”.