Gov't puts aside $3 billion for phase one of COVID vaccine programme

January 20, 2021
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 19.

The Government is expected to spend $3 billion to implement phase one of the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

This disclosure was made by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, during a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Dr. Tufton said that the sum covers, among other things, the purchase of the vaccine(s), supply chain and cold storage items, personal protective equipment (PPE), transportation, staff costs including training, and public education and sensitisation.

Jamaica has committed to vaccinating 16 per cent of the population in phase one and will receive 935,676 doses of the approved vaccine through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

Jamaica is to receive 292,399 doses starting in April, based on the COVAX vaccine delivery schedule

The first phase will cater to the vaccination of vulnerable and priority groups in the population. The second phase will see the introduction of vaccine to the general public and in each subsequent phase, more of the general population will have access.

Dr. Tufton told the House that the Government’s intention is to continuously seek out supplies of vaccines to ensure that as many Jamaicans as possible, at any given time, can be protected.

“We will seek additional doses of the vaccines based on locally relevant risk factors, vulnerabilities and the COVID-19 threat. The initial projection for the second phase is a further 16 per cent of the population,” he noted.

Dr. Tufton said that the second phase may see the vaccine becoming a part of the routine immunisation schedule and procurement absorbed into the regular budget for immunisations.

“This will have to be expanded based on demand and availability of funds,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton noted that acceptance and uptake for the approved COVID-19 vaccine in Jamaica is critical in slowing the spread of the infection, reducing morbidity and mortality as well as rebuilding the economy.

As such, he said that a robust public education and sensitisation campaign will be implemented by the Ministry aimed at increasing acceptance and uptake of the vaccine.

“The purpose of the public education and sensitisation campaign is to foster trust of the vaccine, dispel myths and misinformation, provide factual and accurate information about vaccination and gain public input in the vaccination strategies to be employed,” Dr. Tufton noted.

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