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by Arriel Bullock, Associate Writer
February 26, 2021
It has been almost one full year since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Jamaica on March 10, 2020. Since that time, there has been a steady increase in cases, both imported and through community spread.
There have been spikes in different areas at different times, with measures being put in place in accordance to the CDC guidelines to try to stem the increase. Despite the lockdowns, curfews, mask and sanitization protocols, etc, however, Jamaica recorded the second worst rise in rate of infection (in 28 days) worldwide, per a New York Times publication (dated February 22, 2021).
All over the world, countries are preparing to inoculate their population with one of the several vaccine preparations in circulation, the more popular ones being the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca and more recently Janssen (manufactured by Johnson and Johnson).
With so many different vaccine options in circulation and the Jamaican health system being heavily burdened with cases, the question on everyone’s mind is: will Jamaica get a COVID-19 vaccine and when will the first set of doses arrive?
The Minister of Health, Christopher Tufton, speaking in the House of Representatives on February 2, 2021, stated that Jamaica should be receiving between 146,400 and 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India, by mid to late February 2021.
He, however, cautioned that this figure is an estimate, with the possibility for variance either upwards or downwards, depending on global circumstances and availability subject to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing.
In anticipation of the arrival of the doses, Jamaican companies have begun sensitizing their staff in regard to the necessity of taking the vaccine once it becomes available.
Frontline workers and the vulnerable population will be prioritized, with an estimated 450,000 Jamaicans set to be inoculated by the end of the year.
With just two days left in the month of February, however, Jamaica still has not yet received the first shipment of the vaccine, which has heightened concerns regarding whether this will be realized. Will Jamaica actually get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
In a bid to allay the trepidation, the Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Ambassador Masakui Rungsung, gave an address on February 26, 2020 stating that the promised shipment should be arriving in the coming week. He did not, however, provide a definite date of arrival, nor did he disclose the expected quantity of doses.
He advised that the vaccines would have already be on the island had it not been for undue delays with the shipment.
To date, Jamaica has recorded over 22,000 cases of COVID-19, with 400 related deaths. As such, it is with bated breath that the populace seeks some semblance of comfort that this nightmare will be coming to an end soon.
Job losses, lost loved ones, fear of infection, economic instability, curfew and lockdown fatigue have left many Jamaicans anxiously awaiting the arrival of the vaccine, as it promises to bring them one step closer to a return to normalcy.
Only time will tell how soon they will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and welcome the first shipment of the long awaited vaccine.
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