First doses of Pfizer vaccine being suspended until new supplies arriveFriday, September 10, 2021
BY ALPHEA SUMNER
The health and wellness ministry says it will, as of tomorrow, suspend administering first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as it tries to ensure that there are enough shots available for Jamaicans whose second dose will become due before new supplies arrive.
Addressing yesterday's virtual COVID Conversations virtual press briefing, portfolio minister Dr Christopher Tufton said some of those second shots of the favoured brand are due tomorrow.
The Government does not, at this time, have confirmation from the United States as to when the next shipment of vaccines will be available, but the arrangement is in place for supplies once per month for three months, beginning in August.
Jamaica has so far received 208,260 doses of Pfizer vaccines and administered 135,403 doses.
Of a total 814,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 465,126 have been administered. However, take-up of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson brand has been significantly slower, Dr Tufton noted, stressing that the vaccine was just as effective as the others. Only 12,280 doses of a total 116,080 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have so far been taken, the ministry said.
In the meantime, Dr Tufton said vaccination numbers are increasing, with 606,286 doses administered as of yesterday morning. Of that number, 453,543 were first doses, 141,438 were second doses, and 11,305 were single doses.
“These numbers put us within reach of our target to administer some 700,000 doses of the vaccines by the end of this September, in pursuit of the goal to have 65 per cent of the Jamaican population vaccinated by March 2022,” he said.
Furthermore, he said the current curfews and the no-movement days are reaping some positive results in reducing spread of the virus.
The Government expects to secure 1.4 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
“There will be some choice and you will be able to indicate which vaccine [you want]. Our supply chain is pretty good for the rest of the year,” Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jaquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said at the news briefing.
She cautioned that, although the seven-day positivity rate is trending down, there is still a high level of transmission, with 75-100 per cent of communities affected. The reproductive rate of spread is also trending down, but the CMO said low vaccination levels are not yet impacting this indicator.
“We are bending the corner, levelling off, and we hope it will continue,” she said.
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie pointed out that the first surge took about 82 days overall, peaking at day 25, and saw a reduction in transmission levels in 50 days, while the second surge lasted 140 days, peaking on the 64th day and took two months for transmission levels to drop to about 10 per cent. However, she noted that the current surge in transmission is even higher than the second, which means it could take an estimated minimum of two more months to get below 10 per cent.
“Based on the fact that the peak is higher, the variant that we are dealing — which is highly transmissible — then it may take longer, but it is dependent on what you do in terms of reducing your exposure, [and] in terms of getting vaccinated,” she stated.