Hotel workers largest take-up of vaccine in St JamesSunday, April 11, 2021
ST JAMES, Jamaica— The tourism sector accounted for the largest take-up of the COVID-19 vaccine during yesterday's St James leg of the Ministry of Health and Wellness' vaccination blitz.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, told reporters that the hesitancy level within that group is very low and that encouraged the workers' turnout.
“We have not had the level of hesitancy. There is some hesitancy, no question about it, and it is a global issue, but I must say that so far, today (yesterday), the vast majority of those who have been vaccinated here, have been by large tourism workers,” said Reader.
Noting that while hotel workers have been eager to get vaccinated, he acknowledged that the level of enthusiasm is not shared within the sector's other sub-sections.
“I just want to get a more ambitious response from the transportation sub-section, and I think that a part of the problem has been [that] some hotels are up to 75 per cent occupancy [this] weekend. But we think that tomorrow (today), Monday, and Tuesday, we should see far more responses from them,” he said.
Also appealing to operators and workers at the local attraction sites, Reader explained that they too should take advantage of this vaccination blitz.
“I want to appeal to the attractions [workers] because they want to open up and a great way for them to open is basically to become vaccinated, to make sure that they are safe, their families are safe, their communities are safe and by extension, the tourists will be safe as well,” he urged.
The president announced that it is his ambition to have some 30,000 tourism workers vaccinated over the period of the weekend blitz.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, who was also in attendance, lauded the Health Ministry for the weekend vaccination blitz, noting that having tourism workers vaccinated is a big step in the right direction.
“Vaccination is one of the secure ways of fighting this pandemic. It is true that the world doesn't say, and nobody says that is the only answer, but it is certainly a big part of what helps us to manage this process and we want all of our tourism workers to be vaccinated,” said the minister.
“It is important that we are secure and the health protocols that we have all constructed and subscribed to, that we are comporting with them but more importantly, the biophysical and bio sanitary arrangements that are critical to enable us to manage this process better, is carried out by all our people,” he added.
Bartlett also joined the JHTA president in his appeal to members of the tourism sector's sub-sectors to get vaccinated.
“The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and all the tourism partners are committed to enabling this process to be completed as quickly as possible. The JUTA and the taxi drivers, they are frontline workers in this regard. They are the ones who really commute daily with the people and they are [how] the largest number of people and visitors to our country, move around in the country. It is important that they come out and I want to make a special appeal now to them also, to make sure that all our transportation workers come out,” urged Bartlett.
He declared that all workers in the tourism sector should make vaccination a priority in light of the cruise ships impending arrival to Jamaica.
“I want to also make a special appeal to our craft market vendors and all small players, the street food providers, and the small and medium tourism enterprises, come out and get vaccinated because you must interface with the public. The cruise is coming back, and cruise is when a lot of people walk street so we need to make sure that our people are vaccinated so that when they come, they can feel safe that they have a small if any chance at all getting infected because Jamaicans are protected,” he argued.
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