Vaccination roll-out delayed; shipment from India to now arrive MondayThursday, March 04, 2021
THE roll-out of the country's COVID-19 vaccination programme has been set back by at least a week, as the shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines that were to arrive from India today has now been rescheduled.
The cause of the delay is unclear, but the health ministry advised yesterday that Jamaica is now to receive its first shipment of vaccines on Monday, March 8. Immunisation, of the targeted key population in this first phase, is planned for 48 hours after the arrival of the shipment.
Another batch of 14,000 doses procured under the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility is still on track for March 11.Additionally, 14,400 of a total of 124,000 doses are expected by next Thursday, under the COVAX facility, the ministry said this week.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said on Tuesday that large vaccination centres will be opened, pulling on the resources of both public and private sector doctors and nurses, including those who have retired.
“This is not a stamp-and-go arrangement, where you just apply a jab, and everything is okay. The process is more engaging and does require some technical skills,” he advised.
The numbers are still being tallied, but about 248,000 people are targeted to be immunised against the viral illness under phase one of the vaccine plan between March and June.Yesterday, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) gave notice that countries will be faced with a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines for much of this year as manufacturers work feverishly to produce more doses.“In the short term, doses will remain limited. And we must use them wisely, prioritising those most at risk, like our health workers, the elderly and people living with pre-existing conditions. Throughout the pandemic, every country in the world has grappled with shortages of essential medical supplies, like medicines, diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, even oxygen. We face the same challenge with vaccines,” PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne said.She assured that as more doses are produced, several waves of shipments will arrive in the region monthly.
Meanwhile, Dr Etienne said, also, that some countries still need to approve their contracts with the COVAX facility to ensure they have the proper regulations in place and make their payments. This is another complicated process as some countries will need to have new legislation to meet these COVAX requirements.
“We urge our member states to make this a priority so they can receive these long-awaited doses,” she said.Dr Etienne, meanwhile, reiterated that the problem continues to be compounded by the imbalance in distribution between poor and wealthy nations.
“There are not enough vaccines to go around right now, and the limited amounts that are available are not being distributed equitably. Wealthy countries are rolling out vaccines, while many nations have yet to receive a single dose. This disparity harms our principles of solidarity,” she stressed.
She argued that, despite being the epicentre of the pandemic, the region of the Americas lags in vaccination efforts because most countries cannot access the doses they need through bilateral agreements with the manufacturers.
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