Don't get that Pfizer feeling
Tufton says fresh doses only for 12-18 age group and people due second jab

HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday issued a strong plea to Jamaicans outside the 12 to 18 age group not to turn up at vaccination sites seeking to get the Pfizer jab as the doses which are expected to arrive here by weekend are strictly for those due their second shot, and first doses within that age cohort.

Just over 80,000 people are now due second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the initial three-week wait period that was anticipated between doses having elapsed.

“The priority will be, in the first instance, to deliver to persons who have already gotten their first dose, so if you've not gotten a dose you should not try to get a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at this time. There are others out there. If you don't have an appointment it is best not to turn up, because we are prioritising 'second-dosers'. We will stock at locations the numbers of vaccines that are linked to an appointment,” Dr Tufton said yesterday at a COVID-19 update press conference.

He assured that all individuals who are due their second dose will get it in the coming days and weeks.

One hundred and forty-five thousand doses of Pfizer vaccines are expected to arrive in the island by this weekend. Just over 45,600 of those are a donation from Suriname, with the remainder sourced through the Government's paid arrangement with the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility.

Distribution of the doses to the various health regions is to start on Monday, November 1.

Dr Tufton noted the anxiety surrounding the wait for the vaccines but urged affected people to exercise patience and allow the vaccination process to take its course.

He stressed that the ministry's “revised policy” would ensure that the vaccines are exclusively given to individuals in the 12-18 age group, after the second doses are completed.

Permanent secretary in the ministry, Dunstan Bryan had previously defended the issuing of the Pfizer vaccine to adults, claiming that the plan was never one of exclusivity to any cohort but was rather to ensure that the most vulnerable are prioritised for vaccination.

“They will be the ones not just given priority, they will be the ones who will exclusively benefit from the rest of Pfizer vaccine,” Tufton said yesterday. “This is in keeping with the revised policy approach to give [the Pfizer vaccine] to our young people in anticipation of securing them sufficiently for face-to-face classes, which we hope will begin in the near future. So for persons who do not fall into that category, do not attempt to. Please understand that the health teams are carrying out the policies of the Government — a Cabinet decision.”

The Government is still hoping to receive its next donation of Pfizer vaccines from the US some time in November.So far, 899,344 doses of vaccines have been administered to Jamaicans across the island, with 580,000 people having received a first, second, or single dose. A total of 363,480 people are now fully vaccinated, according to figures from the health ministry.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

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