Chen wants stronger vaccination push
Relocated Mandeville Regional Hospital Outpatient Department almost readyTuesday, September 07, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Chairman Wayne Chen says Jamaica should be vaccinating at least 15,000 people daily and push to have 60 per cent of the population inoculated three months ahead of the March 2022 deadline set by the Government.
“I think that in this country we should be vaccinating 15,000 to 20,000 people every day, so when I start to see the numbers drop below 10,000 I start to get worried… People are talking about getting 60 per cent by March, I would love to see 60 per cent by December,” he said yesterday.
“The quicker we can get the country vaccinated, the more lives we will save, the stress we will take off the hospitals and health centres, and the quicker we can open our economy so people can start making a living again,” he added.
“I believe that a lot more of us ought to be taking the vaccine. My concern is that we need to vaccinate people faster, because many of us are still vulnerable, even after we take the vaccine, as you know, we are still vulnerable to [the] disease,” he added.
“It is really up to us as Jamaicans to take responsibility for our personal health, the health of our families, the health of our children, and ensure that we are vaccinated… Nothing is perfect, but the vaccine is, by far, the best weapon we have now in the fight against COVID,” he went on.
SRHA has oversight responsibility for health facilities in Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth.
Chen said 22 per cent of the region's population of 600,000 have been vaccinated.
“Based on the national figures and the figures I see for these three parishes, I think this region is actually leading the rest of Jamaica. We have 22 per cent of the population, but close to 40 per cent of the vaccines that have been given out over the last two weeks or so, which is not to say we are doing well. I am calling on the rest of Jamaica to catch up and to surpass us,” he said.
Overburdened by the surge in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation, Mandeville Regional Hospital's Outpatient Department, which has been relocated to the nearby Seventh-day Adventist Church, is slated to open on Wednesday.
The hospital was forced to retrofit the department recently to house COVID-19 patients as the other designated isolation wards remain at capacity.
Chen said several facilities have been installed at the new location.
“A lot of work has gone on in the last couple of weeks in terms of putting in partitions, creating office space, meeting rooms, and examination rooms. Even bathrooms have been put in. A construction crew worked round the clock, so we now have an Outpatient Department right across the road from here,” he said.
“[It has] allowed us to use the old Outpatient Department as a new ward. A lot of work has gone on, but the southern region has doubled the number of isolation spaces for COVID patients, between February and July of this year. In other words, in five months we doubled the number of beds available for COVID,” he added.
The hospital's vaccination site was yesterday open for people opting to choose from the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), AstraZeneca, or and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
Most people opted to take Pfizer instead of AstraZeneca or the single-dose J&J.
“I feel safer taking Pfizer than the others. My brother did the research and he said it is best for me and our mom to take this one. My mother is 82,” said a man who asked not to be identified.
“Because of the misinformation that you get on J&J, it is being said that it is not very reliable. For that reason I said I'm not taking that one. I wanted to do the Pfizer, but when I came, I decided that I wanted to do the AstraZeneca,” said a woman who asked not to be identified.
Another woman, who also asked not to be identified, took the J&J at the first opportunity of it being available in Manchester.
“I'm a busy person, I can't take the up and down, so I just decided to take the one dose,” she said.