Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, says the Ministry of Health and Wellness is aiming to have 30 to 40 percent of Jamaica’s population receive “at least one dose” of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine before the Christmas holiday.
So far, some 11 percent of Jamaicans are fully vaccinated, and just under 20 percent have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Speaking at a COVID Conversations virtual press briefing on October 14, she said this will help to prevent an increase in hospitalizations, as more persons will be inclined to travel and do much shopping for holiday preparations.
The CMO also urged Jamaicans to maintain strict adherence to social distancing measures, to prevent a spike in cases.
To date, the Ministry has reported that the number of cases, deaths and hospitalisations are decreasing; however, Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said the current number of cases still “significantly impact hospital services”.
“We really need to get down to less than 200 cases to be in the [safe] zone, where we won’t severely impact the rest of the activities in the hospitals,” she said.
She pointed out that activities, such as Elective Admissions and Elective Surgeries, were put on hold to accommodate patients hospitalised with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie noted that 80,000 of 120,000 persons who received the jab in August 2021 are due for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The CMO said these individuals should not hesitate to receive their second dose.
“This is the only way you will protect yourself during the Christmas season and prevent yourself from getting severely ill,” she added.
The Government of Jamaica recently launched a “vaccine ambassador” program to boost efforts. The first set of 40 vaccine ambassadors has been mobilised in parts of Jamaica to encourage and facilitate the vaccination of members in their communities.
To date, 99.3 per cent of persons hospitalised are unvaccinated.