Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says Jamaica has only discarded 12% of its Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, which is below the international best practice of 10-30%.
He said while he would not make excuses for disposing of the medicine, refusal of persons to take the vaccine should not be seen as discouragement to acquire more, or to dishearten persons presiding over the process, “because I know they make their best effort to deliver the vaccines.
“We have discarded 12%, it is well within the best practices and it is not a reason not to acquire and to hold vaccines, because, should the day come when people want it, we must always be prepared to say we have it, carrying our inventory is very important,” the Minister said. He was speaking at the National Arena in St. Andrew on Saturday (November 6), at a function to formally thank the Canadian Government for its support given to the National Vaccination Programme.
Minister Tufton added that Jamaica has received 2.3 million doses of vaccines through purchases and gifts, and had to discard 280,000. He noted that much of the gifts filled gaps in the programme and Jamaica is highly appreciative to its partners. When the vaccines shelf-life ends, he said, they will never be administered to the population.
“We are committed to a process that delivers safe vaccines to the Jamaican people, and we are not going to compromise on that, so there is no chance of us administering expired vaccines to our population,” the Minister told his audience.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the vaccine donations from Canada, including the recent 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca, have been helping to boost the country’s capacity to fight the virus and also demonstrates that the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility is working.
She expressed Jamaica’s “gratefulness” to Canada for mobilising $2.5 billion in international assistance for the pandemic and for being an “extremely important friend in our engagements with international financial institutions to deal with some of the challenges that we are managing.” She added that Canada has also supported Jamaica with climate and debt financing.
Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Her Excellency
Emina Tudakovic, said her country’s support to Jamaica is part of the collaborative effort “to make sure that we come out of this pandemic together”. Canada firmly believes that “no one is safe until we are all safe, so the distribution of vaccines and ensuring that people take the vaccines globally is a major way of fighting the pandemic”, the High Commissioner said.