KINGSTON, Jamaica (Tuesday, March 23, 2021) — The first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination blitz, mainly targeting persons 75 years and older, is set for Saturday, March 27, at the National Arena in St. Andrew, via appointment scheduling.
This was announced by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, who said the exercise is aimed at inoculating approximately 1,000 persons.
“This is the blitz, centre approach, where we pull together a much larger infrastructure of medical personnel, where our mobilsation efforts are a lot more significant,” he said, while addressing the weekly virtual COVID-19 Conversations press briefing, today (March 23).
Dr. Tufton advised that persons, wishing to participate in the blitz program, must make an appointment by registering online, through the vaccination appointment system on the Ministry’s website: www.moh.gov.jm, or calling the Vaccination Call Centre Hotline – 888 ONE LOVE (888-663-5683).
The Minister emphasised that making an appointment is crucial, as this will ensure the process is carried out, efficiently.
He noted that persons turning up to vaccination centres, without an appointment, proves very challenging for the healthcare professionals, who are then pressed to simultaneously manage individuals, who have registered, and those who did not.
“It then involves a process of vetting, because we try not to turn away persons if they qualify for the period of vaccination. But it is not an ideal scenario — not ideal for the persons [turning up without appointments] because they have to deal with standing up in the sun; and persons [may start] feeling faint, and you end up having to provide care for them,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton pointed out that while the population’s enthusiasm to be vaccinated can be appreciated, “it creates some amount of challenges and, in some instances, confusion, and we would like to discourage it”.
“We encourage you to use the appointment system or wait your turn to be vaccinated. We have to do it in an orderly way, otherwise chaos becomes counter-productive and inefficient, and we would rather not have that,” he said.
Dr. Tufton further informed that other blitz sites will be operational, in due course, including the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James and the Bahia Principe Hotel in St. Ann.
“We intend to begin rolling out theses blitz centres, which is the third phase of the three-phase approach, with, hopefully, another phase to come, involving the private sector,” he explained.
Persons with an appointment will be allowed to visit vaccination sites for inoculation, during the recently-announced, expanded curfew period, which begins at midday on Saturday, March 27.
The Health Minister also disclosed that Jamaica has managed to keep COVID-19 vaccine waste at .3 percent, to date, which is way below the country’s two percent benchmark.
He noted that the global standard of waste of the vaccine is three percent.
“We have used some 2,200 vials. There is always going to be an expectation of waste, and we have set our target at two percent. To date, our waste/equivalent has been .3 percent, far less than one percent,” Dr. Tufton said.
Dr. Tufton said the team in the field is doing “very well”, in managing the vaccination process, noting that the objective is not to waste any of the vaccine.
Providing an update on the investigation into the one vial of vaccine that has been reported missing, the Minister said the police have been brought in, and there has been some “personnel adjustments, to ensure that it doesn’t reoccur”.
The vaccination program started on March 10 and is being administered to front-line workers, including persons in the healthcare sector and members of the security forces, government officials, over age 60, and other vulnerable groups.