Mandatory vaccination plan for infirmaries — McKenzie
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie (right) is assisted byFalmouth Mayor C Junior Gager to plant a tree on the grounds of the Trelawny Infirmary in Falmouth.(Photo: Philp Lemonte)

FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says one of the conditions being mulled for the restart of admitting new indigents into infirmaries is that they must be fully vaccinated.

The ban on admission at infirmaries, which came into effect last year, formed part of measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“What we are looking to do is that once we start to re-admit persons to the infirmaries, one of the conditions that will be laid out is that new cases coming into the infirmaries must be fully vaccinated before they are admitted to the infirmary. We have to do that to safeguard the population in our infirmaries,” McKenzie said.

He was speaking recently at the Trelawny Infirmary's workday, which formed part of the activities for the celebration of Local Government and Community Month.

McKenzie stressed that the move is being considered to protect the residents, 87 per cent of whom are vaccinated. He added that 70 per cent of the infirmary staff has already been vaccinated, and residents with medical conditions and anti-vaxxers make up the remaining 13 per cent unvaccinated.

Noting that face-to-face visits were being contemplated for loved ones at infirmaries over the Yuletide season, McKenzie revealed that visitors who were not fully vaccinated will not be admitted at the facilities.

“The other thing we are contemplating is how are we going to treat visits in the Christmas season. Last year we partnered with Digicel and we used technology as a means of allowing loved ones to communicate with their relatives inside of the infirmaries. This year we are looking to see if we can do it on a limited face-to-face basis where people, once we have agreed and I just want to say it from now, what we are looking for is that people who would want to visit their relatives in the infirmaries, people who are desirous of doing so must be fully vaccinated, and they must come with a [negative] COVID test that is 72 hours [before], and we will limit visits based on appointments,” McKenzie said.

“So you would make your appointments, you would come at the time given and we will be creating areas such as the therapeutic park, as a means of allowing loved ones during the festive season, once we have worked out the protocols. That is the approach we will be taking,” McKenzie said.

The minister said the Government cannot continue to forbid people from visiting their loved ones in State care.

He, however, said in order to relax the measures, existing health protection protocols will be applied.

“People must understand that in order to protect the integrity and to maintain the very high standards that we have had since COVID with the infirmaries, that all the protocols that are being used will be observed once we take that decision,” McKenzie said.

BY HORACE HINES Staff reporter editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

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