COVID-19 vaccination start historic — Mandeville Hospital SMO

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — It was smooth sailing at Mandeville Regional Hospital yesterday as health workers at that institution became the first in this south-central parish to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination of essential health workers and the elderly began across the island yesterday, following the arrival of 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca brand of vaccine from India on Monday. Another 14,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines are expected in Jamaica this week.

Senior medical officer(SMO) at Mandeville Regional, Dr Everton McIntosh said it was crucial that health-care workers be the first to be vaccinated in Mandeville.

“This is a historic moment for us; not only here, but for the health service in Jamaica as a whole as we begin the roll-out of our COVID vaccines,” McIntosh told journalists before receiving his jab.

He said the hospital was aiming to vaccinate approximately 40 staff members yesterday. “We will be set up for this, three days each week— Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” he added.

McIntosh pointed to the continued high number of cases in the parish and the need for herd immunity.

“As we know the way, the pandemic is going, particularly in Jamaica, we are seeing a significant surge, and without the vaccine it is going to be a huge problem going forward. The only way to really control this pandemic is for a significant proportion of the population to be vaccinated against the virus,” he said.

The inoculation process began with registration, followed by a check of all vital signs.

“You need to check persons beforehand to ensure that there are no issues to prevent them from getting the vaccine, so you want to know if there is any history of allergies, for instance, because most of the serious reactions we have seen have centred around persons who have serious allergies to drugs,” explained Dr McIntosh.

“We have a resuscitation area in the unlikely event of a serious reaction where persons would be attended to, so we have doctors and nurses who are there on standby and with all the required facilities in terms of equipment, drugs and other supplies,” said Dr McIntosh said.

The hospital recently had a cluster of cases halting some surgeries, but the SMO said the number of infected staff members had declined.

“I know that the numbers have come down significantly. We had a little flurry a couple weeks ago where a lot of our operating theatre staff [were] in a cluster. At one stage we had up to 47 members of staff throughout the hospital that were infected. Most of those persons have already returned to work and since then we have had only sporadic cases,” he said.

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