Vaccines offer hope for faster return to normal life, says PMMonday, August 02, 2021
PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the novel coronavirus vaccine provides a “ray of hope” for faster recovery and a return to normality as soon as possible, and appealed to all eligible Jamaicans to take the jab.
The prime minister was speaking at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Friday when he welcomed the arrival of 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by the United Kingdom.
“With this number of vaccines we could easily double the number of persons who are fully vaccinated… and we could do so rapidly. However, it will take the acceptance of every single Jamaican to come on board and get vaccinated,” he said.
He assured Jamaicans of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.
“What we have seen, since persons have taken the vaccine, is that when they get infected, they do not get ill, or if they do get ill, it is not a severe illness. What we are certain of is that they will not die. The vaccines will save your lives and will allow us to return to normal and reopen our economy. So please go out and get vaccinated,” Holness urged.
The prime minister acknowledged that there is “a great deal of pent-up frustration” consequent on the measures that have been instituted to control transmission of the virus. “I have [heard] the complaints, I hear the constant issues being raised about people not being able to move about and gather freely as we would like, particularly at this time, when we celebrate our Emancipation and Independence,” he noted.
However, he said that based on the highly infective nature of the new Delta variant, in particular, “we have to be very careful about how we, as a country, loosen our measures”.
He indicated that there are presently 700 beds in the public health system to facilitate the admission of severely ill COVID-19 patients, of which just over 200 are occupied.
He noted that the remaining beds could be easily used up “because… this virus could spread rapidly… and that would throw us into a crisis”.
He added: “It was not so long ago, in February, that we approached that crisis level. We do not want to get there again.”
Additionally, he said, “we have to consider that our children have been out of school for a year and a half [and] the impact [of COVID-19] on their education [has been] significant and will be long-lasting.”
“As a responsible Government, we cannot place the education of our children at risk. Therefore, at this time, it will be necessary for the Government to continue to tighten measures and to use non-clinical measures to manage the pandemic,” said Holness.
The 300,000 vaccines are the first to be shipped by the UK to any country globally under a commitment given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a Group of Seven (G7) nations meeting in June.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad said the island is slated to receive another significant shipment of vaccines from the UK by year end.
Jamaicans 18 years and older can now make appointments to take the vaccine.
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