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11 private facilities to administer free COVID-19 jabs

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Observer staff reporter
hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

More Jamaicans will be able to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus as 11 private facilities have joined the national vaccination programme in an effort to help achieve the goal of herd immunity.

The development comes in response to the Ministry of Health and Wellness's invitation to the private sector, through a request for quotation, to expand vaccination access points.

Addressing the virtual signing ceremony for private facilities yesterday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton welcomed the public-private partnership, noting that it marked an important development in attempts to have 65 per cent of the population vaccinated by March 2022.

“We are very proud of the entities selected and we believe that they are very qualified technically and otherwise to be a part of this process. We are happy to partner with them, of course, in a way that allows the public health technocrats to provide some oversight to ensure standards are maintained but nevertheless giving these entities the autonomy sufficient to inoculate,” he said.

The entities that will add to the existing 55 fixed vaccination sites are: Vein Centres of Jamaica, Health Plus Associates, Windsor Wellness Centre, Medical Associates, Dr Michelle Holt's practice at Nuttall Medical Centre, and Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute/Winchester Laboratory in Kingston; Online Medics and Portmore Health Complex in St Catherine; Baywest Wellness Hospital and Hospiten in St James; and Fontana Limited in Mandeville, Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Savanna-la-Mar.

The health minister noted that the private entities will be administering vaccines free of cost.

At this time, he said, they will be delivering the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We don't have Pfizer vaccine right now and we are working on that. Hopefully, that will be here soon. But you will have at least those two choices and the entities will have the capacity to collect their doses in a time period that allows them to store safely and, of course [have] all the other supporting equipment. All that we do at the National Arena or other locations, these entities will have to comply with it, so it is not a different system. It is the same system, same standard, but additional outlets,” Tufton explained.

He pointed out that the entities will not only be required to provide COVID-19 vaccination administration and processing of vaccination registration, but will also have to provide adequate staffing to accomplish vaccination, registration, address client questions and concerns, and have systems and COVID-19 protocols in place to handle possible urgent adverse events following vaccination.

Additionally, the facilities will have to secure sufficient quantities of vaccine-associated supplies (such as personal protective equipment and specialised storage equipment), maintain vaccine records and documentation, provide a completed Ministry of Health and Wellness COVID-19 Vaccination Card to vaccine recipients, and dispose of waste associated with the services.

Up to 9:00 am yesterday, Jamaica had administered 738,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, of which 499,035 were first doses, 214,070 were second doses and 25,395 were the single dose Johnson & Johnson.

Tufton said the ministry intends to expand the number of buses for the mobile vaccination programme in collaboration with some of the private entities, to take vaccines to Jamaicans as part of the Government's community distribution efforts.