Taking jabs for jobsWednesday, October 20, 2021
ALEXANDRIA, St Ann — Dexie Bailey is hoping the COVID-19 vaccine will open doors for him to walk through straight to America. He took the jab last Thursday, a step towards his goal of being employed as a farm worker.
“A good likkle time now mi nuh have no job and tru the disease a go 'roun, dem seh we haffi take it... Mi get a job now, so mi a go try get it an' thing. A work mi a go work and come back come do suppen fi myself 'cause mi never have it before. So when time mi get it now mi have a better chance in life,” Bailey told the Jamaica Observer.
He was one of a group of young people who caught the eye of Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his tour of a vaccination site in St Ann. The prime minister lauded them for their decision to become vaccinated and protect their economic future.
“There are many persons who are on the farm work programme who would ordinarily have taken a perspective which many Jamaicans are taking which is, 'Let me wait and see. Let me wait and see'. There are many who are on the farm work programme who would normally buy into some of the garbage that is being placed in social media… But because they have made the connection between their economic livelihood and their health status, they have decided to come and get vaccinated,” Holness told Jamaicans at the vaccination site.
In addition to farm workers and those getting vaccinated to take up overseas jobs in the tourism industry, others who plan to work locally also came out for their jabs. Construction worker Orion Wilson, the first one in his household to get vaccinated, said he travels a lot for his job and thought he needed the protection of the vaccine.
“My health is important because mi do construction work all over the place,” he told the Observer. He intends to encourage others to also get the jab, he said.
Sawn Williams, the youthful owner of a small business, brought four of his employees to get vaccinated alongside him.
“I think it's the safe way to go 'cause mi in the public... I own a phone store, sell clothes and other business,” Williams explained.
During his visit to the vaccination site the prime minister once again made the point that the country's level of vaccination is linked to its economic future and stability. He stressed that it was not feasible for “the Government, every three or four months, to be finding money to give subsidy, to give a transfer of a welfare grant [as] that is not going to be possible all the time”.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Nigel Clarke announced that between 200,000 and 250,000 Covid-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) packages would be made available to vulnerable Jamaicans and those adversely affected by COVID-19. This was the Government's response, he said, to increasing food costs. The move is an expansion of one component of the Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica Programme by almost doubling the budgetary allocation. The price tag is $1 billion.
“The only way that we're going to come out of this economic situation in which we find ourselves is if our economy returns to normal. And what does return to normal mean? It means that we will have to one, do away with the limits on movement and gatherings. When we have to shut down our economy at seven or eight o'clock, that impacts on production, it impacts on your ability to earn,” said Holness.
“So the only way that we can return to normal, that is move those restrictions, and we get back to our lives as usual — without fear of people getting ill and overburdening the hospitals — is if you take the vaccines, what you have done today. Coming to get the vaccine is the first step for us to be returning to normal,” the prime minister said.
— Donicka Robinson