Shifting to 60
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems set to finally admit that it was over ambitious in targeting 1,000 people, 75 years and older, for its one-day COVID-19 vaccination blitz sites.
After two Saturdays of vaccination blitzes at National Arena in St Andrew, where they failed to get anywhere close to the targets, the ministry is poised to officially reduce the starting minimum age to 60 when it stages its planned islandwide COVID-19 vaccination blitz this Saturday.
Last Saturday, with the turnout looking to be below 60 per cent of the target at midday, the ministry hurriedly sent out invitations to people 60 years and older to turn up for the jab.
This resulted in 1,038 people being vaccinated, up from the just over 600 inoculated the previous Saturday during the first blitz.
Yesterday, Jamaica Observer sources reported that a formal announcement is to be made shortly about the lowering of the age limit, as the health and wellness ministry prepares to operate at least 12 sites across the island for this Saturday’s blitz.
“When the announcement is made, and that could be as early as today, Jamaicans 60 years and older will be told how to register for the location that they wish to be vaccinated. It is the hope of the ministry to vaccinate 1,000 persons at each site,” said one Observer source.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton on Saturday told journalists that the Government is working with several stakeholders, including the Church and senior citizens’ groups, to assist in getting more people inoculated despite what he described as “strong vaccine hesitancy” in Jamaica.
“What we really want to get out of this is a unified message to the country, to the people of Jamaica, that this is a risk that affects all of us and so it requires a solution from all of us,” declared Tufton as he indicated that Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie would play a key role in helping to get elderly Jamaicans out to be vaccinated.
McKenzie, who had arranged to get approximately 80 people from his Kingston Western constituency to the National Arena last Saturday, told journalists at the arena that he would be hosting a virtual meeting today with parish councillors across the island in an effort to get them to join the push to get Jamaicans to take the jab.
“The Ministry of Local Government, as you all know, is critical to the COVID response,” said McKenzie.
“Extending ourselves to work with the Ministry of Health will go a far way in regards to the response. We have 230 elected councillors across Jamaica… and you can see the importance of the councillors in [the COVID-19 response] exercise.
“We will be coordinating with the 63 Members of Parliament… and on Tuesday (today) I will be meeting with all the mayors and the CEOs [of the municipal bodies], and the inspectors of the poor… where Minister Tufton will join that virtual meeting to outline the process as we go forward. We want to use that platform to encourage Jamaicans not to listen to the false narrative that is out there about the vaccine,” added McKenzie.