High vaccination rate in southern region amid bed shortage

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — There continues to be a high take-up of the novel coronavirus AstraZeneca vaccine, with the southern region exceeding its daily expectations by over 50 per cent in the roll-out to priority groups.

Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Director Michael Bent told the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday that he is pleased with the turnout of elderly citizens.

“We continue to vaccinate daily. We have exceeded targets in terms of what we have projected. We have vaccinated 6,612 people. We had projected to be at about 4,380 up to (Tuesday),” he said.

“People are responding as we are seeing the [elderly] coming out. I am very pleased with the response for the elderly which we have been focusing on since last week,” he added.

Police, soldiers and health-care workers were prioritised in the first phase of vaccination by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The SRHA — which has oversight of health facilities in Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth — has a total of 18 vaccination sites including hospitals and health centres.

Clarendon has six — May Pen Hospital; Lionel Town, Spaulding, Summerfield, Frankfield and Kelitts health centres.

St Elizabeth has six — Black River, Santa Cruz, Southfield, Junction, Maggotty and Balaclava health centres.

Manchester has six — Mandeville Regional Hospital; Cross Keys, Newport, Christiana, Mile Gully and Mandeville health centres.

Bent reiterated plans to have mass vaccination sites with one being in each parish in the coming weeks.

“We will be having some blitz sites on weekends, but for now it is happening at the National Arena. The aim is for each parish to have one for the mass vaccination,” he declared

“In Clarendon the mass vaccination site would be the Denbigh Agricultural Showground. We are looking at the St Mark’s Anglican Parish Church Hall in Mandeville (for Manchester). In St Elizabeth it would be the St Matthew’s Anglican Parish Church Hall in Santa Cruz.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, in addressing Parliament last Tuesday, said the intention of the ministry is to host 25 vaccination blitz islandwide over the next three months with 12 locations planned for the weekend of April 9.

Up to Thursday, three of the five hospitals in the southern region had exceeded capacity on COVID-19 wards.

“Mandeville, May Pen, Lionel Town, they have exceeded their capacity. Percy Junor and Black River, they are in the 80 per cent (range) in terms of occupancy, so we have very few spaces right now,” Bent stressed.

Jamaica has recorded in excess of 39,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close to 600 deaths.

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