British high commissioner pledges support for Jamaica's vaccine programmeSaturday, October 23, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — British High Commissioner to Jamaica Judith Slater has pledged to support Jamaica with its vaccination efforts.
Slater, who was addressing an award and partnership launch ceremony hosted by Manchester's Custos Garfield Green at Church Teachers' College on Thursday, said she had met with Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week and noted his personal effort to encourage Jamaicans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“He looked tired…working incredibly hard, travelling around the country trying to encourage people to get vaccinated,” Slater said.
“We had some resistance and reluctance to take the vaccine in the UK as well, but we are now up to a point where we have got 86 per cent of our people in the UK, age 12 and over, are now vaccinated and nearly 80 per cent have had both [doses] of the vaccines, so what we are trying to do now is to encourage the younger population to get vaccinated, though we still have high numbers of people with COVID and most of those are the younger population,” she added.
“It hasn't been plain sailing in the UK, but I know you are going through quite a struggle here to persuade people to take the vaccine, and all I can say is I very much encourage people to [take the vaccine]. We, the UK, are very keen to help in any way we can with that effort,” she said.
The new British envoy told her audience that there is no vaccine preference in the United Kingdom as it inches closer to 90 per cent of its population — age 12 and over — being vaccinated against COVID-19.
She pointed to her family's experience of receiving three different COVID-19 vaccine brands.
“In the United Kingdom you don't have a choice of what vaccine you take, you are given a vaccine and you are grateful. I went along and got my vaccine and I got AstraZeneca. My husband went along about a week later, he got Pfizer. Our son just [went] to get his [and] he was given Moderna, so you get what you're given [and], as far as I'm concerned, they are all safe,” she said.
“We have now moved into the stage where older or more vulnerable people are getting a booster,” she added.
Slater applauded 38 justices of the peace for their service at vaccination centres in assisting health-care workers in Jamaica.
“All of you who have been going above and beyond to help out through this horrible pandemic and, in particular, I understand that you are helping to encourage vaccination and to help at the vaccination centres, and I really wanted to applaud your efforts. The same thing is happening in the UK. I have friends who are helping with vaccination centres as well. It is really a big challenge,” she said.
Slater reflected on the onset of the novel coronavirus, which continues to affect many countries and has claimed 4.9 million lives.
“I also come to the whole COVID story with humility because, again, the UK did not cover itself in glory in the early days of the pandemic like everyone else, we were sort of feeling our way through and trying to understand what to do. Very sadly, nearly 140,000 people in the UK have actually died of COVID-19,” she said.