'Parson christen him pickney first'
Holness accepts that other countries will seek COVID-19 vaccines for themselves before looking at JamaicaSunday, April 11, 2021
THE Jamaica Government has reached out to its friends in the United States Government, and other friendly jurisdictions around the world as it seeks to increase the amount of COVID-19 vaccines available for Jamaicans.
Last month the US announced that it would donate four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to its neighbours, Canada and Mexico, prompting some Caribbean leaders to write to US President Joe Biden asking him to look at the region for similar donations.
But during a question-and-answer session at Jamaica House last Thursday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Jamaica Observer that the Government is not depending on handouts as it moves to provide vaccination to Jamaicans.
“We have reached out to the United States — yes, to the highest office possible and through multiple channels — and we continue to reach out,” said Holness.
“But Jamaica must get used to the idea that it stands on its own two feet and there is nobody from outside who is [obligated] to come and help us, nor should we expect them to. As prime minister, I don't do that.
“What I am trying to get into the psyche of the Jamaican people [is]: Do not believe that anybody owes us anything. We are going to have to fight this on our own. So, don't believe that there is anybody coming to give us anything because what this pandemic has shown is that parson going to christen him pickney first,” added Holness.
Jamaica has so far acquired 139,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with the latest shipment — 75,000 doses of the AstraZeneca — arriving in the island last Thursday. The shipment was a gift from the Africa Medical Supplies Platform and the Government of South Africa.
Before that the island received 14,400 doses of the vaccine which were donated by the Indian Government and a second shipment of 50,000 doses came into the island through the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access) Facility, organised by the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization for member countries, including Jamaica, which have made a collective purchase.
The Holness Administration allocated $10.5 billion to the Ministry of Health and Wellness for special expenses related to COVID-19 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
This includes $6 billion for the procurement, storage, distribution and administration of vaccines; $1 billion for personal protective equipment; $1 billion for drugs and reagents; $2 billion for the regional health authorities to pay arrears to suppliers; and $500 million for other COVID-19-related expenditure.
— Authur Hall
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