Get vaccinated ahead of busy Christmas season, CMO advisesFriday, October 15, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Health officials are expressing concern over the fact that just under 80 per cent of Jamaicans are yet to receive even one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines with the busy Christmas season fast approaching.
Speaking during last evening's weekly press briefing held by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said, while the number of new cases of the virus have been trending down as the island emerges from a vicious third wave, only 12.3 per cent of Jamaicans are fully vaccinated with just 8.2 per cent having had one dose.
“The positivity rate is still very high at 18 per cent. Where we want to get is below the five per cent line. I am sure everybody wouldn't want to see our cases going up around the Christmas period,” she said, noting that the risk of contracting the virus would be higher with more people on the move during the period.
“Now is the time for the Jamaican population to prepare for the Christmas season by getting vaccinated. This will help to get the positivity rate below five per cent,” Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said.
The CMO also expressed concern over what she said is an increase in the number of women who are pregnant or who have just delivered who are being hospitalised with COVID-19. Imploring the groups to “see a doctor”, she said the number is increasing for those that are pregnant with cases of severe COVID-19 being seen.
In the meantime, giving the results of the latest batch of samples sent overseas for testing, the CMO said of the 100 samples sent to Berlin, Germany, to be tested, 95 of which were sequenced, indications are that there is a mixture of the Alpha and Delta variants in the island and very few of the Mu variant, which has been flagged by international authorities as a variant of interest.
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said the Alpha and Delta would appear to still be the dominant variants in the island. She said only one of that batch was the original COVID-19 virus.
As of October 13, a total of 215 new cases were confirmed, taking the island's total count to 86,722 since the first case was reported last year March. Over the last 24 hours, 576 people were in hospital. Health officials yesterday said 99.3 per cent of the people in hospitals are unvaccinated with only one individual listed as moderately ill being vaccinated. They also said 40 out of 40 individuals who are severely ill are unvaccinated and 24 out of 24 who are critically ill are unvaccinated.