Our health workers have been putting in the hours. Who can deny this – they have been dedicated, hard-working and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. The United Nations in Jamaica decided to recognize them by encouraging government and private sector buildings to “light up blue” in recognition of the efforts of our frontline workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has been intense, stressful and exhausting for them all, and it hasn’t gone away – yet.
Talking of making it go away, the ongoing vaccination “hesitancy” has been most disheartening. I cannot wrap my head around it. I am still hearing the same half-hearted excuses being recycled. It is as if many have just made up their minds not to protect their own health – or that of their family, friends, and the general public. It is tiring. I am a fan of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine; as older people (one with co-morbidities) my husband and I both had two doses each and we had virtually no side effects. I implore Jamaicans to go and get vaccinated.
However, Jamaica continues to have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the Caribbean. We are one of six countries in the Latin America/Caribbean region to be way below the current regional average of 39 percent. The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said:
“Six countries in our region have yet to reach 20% of their populations: These are Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Haiti in the Caribbean, and Guatemala and Nicaragua in Central America.”Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Carissa F. Etienne, October 12, 2021
We have vaccines. We ought to be ashamed of our poor showing. I hope this new effort makes a big difference. If people won’t go to the vaccination sites, then it’s time to take the vaccines to their doorstep.
On a more positive note, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the staff at the National Chest Hospital in Kingston. A COVID-19 patient there recently, who has been a very important person in our life, received wonderful care and kindness from them and is now recovering at home. They did not give up on him. Although they said he was an amazing patient, I know he got excellent care – despite the many challenges I know they face. Kudos to the National Chest Hospital, and thank you!
Here is today’s announcement from the Ministry of Health and Wellness:
House to House Vaccination Begins
KINGSTON, Jamaica. Sunday, October 24, 2021: At least nine health departments across the island have begun house to house vaccination. Healthcare teams, including public health nurses and community health aides from Hanover, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, Westmoreland, St. Ann, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas have been deployed to communities across the island to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to shut-ins, disabled and the elderly.
According to Health & Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, “This house to house vaccination programme is intended to take vaccines to communities that are not close to a fixed site and to persons who are not able to travel to these sites.”
This represents another phase in the national vaccination efforts and is in keeping with the principles of the programme, which includes national equity – developing appropriate deployment strategy and distribution infrastructure to ensure access to priority populations.
“I want to salute our public health workers who continue to show commitment to the COVID efforts, walking the hills and valleys to reach our most vulnerable citizens,” added Dr. Tufton.
The Ministry continues to encourage Jamaicans to get vaccinated to prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and/or death associated with COVID-19. There are currently two vaccines in country: the two-dose AstraZeneca and the single-dose Johnson and Johnson. Both vaccines provide protection against the deadly COVID-19.
Up to 2:00 p.m. today, the island had administered a total of 893,696 doses of vaccines. Of that number, 533,967 were first doses, 315,036 were second doses and 44,693 were single doses.