Vaccine mix-up leads to temporary closure of UHWI centre

SOME medical doctors are claiming that there was misappropriation of vaccines at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) to those that were not in the target demographic resulting in a temporary closure of the vaccine centre on March 31.

The claims come after a letter from Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences (FMS) at The University of the West Indies, was addressed to the FMS Management Committee advising that the vaccination centre at the UHWI had been temporarily closed as of Wednesday, March 31 , 2021 and when it reopens, the appointments and rescheduling will be managed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW).

The letter continued, “Going forward all health-care workers and students who wish to be vaccinated at the UHWI will need to make an appointment from the MOHW website, once there they will be required to choose the UHWI vaccine centre as a health-care worker.

Upon circulation of the letter, doctors said the reason for the MOHW now managing the site was because “it was free for all” in terms of administration.

“It was a free for all. All sorts of people were turning up without appointments,” one doctor at UHWI told the Jamaica Observer.

Another doctor at the hospital told the Sunday Observer, “As far as I know, it has been closed as they were giving vaccines to persons who were not to be receiving at the time.”

In addition, another senior doctor at the institution said, “From what I know of UHWI, UHWI is using its position to put whoever it is in line for vaccines. I heard people were being promised by management of the hospital that they could get vaccines from even before the vaccines reached Jamaica.”

When contacted by e-mail, Nordia Francis Williams, manager, public relations and communication at UHWI directed the Sunday Observer‘s queries about the management of the vaccination centre and the claims about misappropriation to the MOHW.

The Sunday Observer also contacted Dr Carl Bruce, senior director of clinical services at the hospital, but he was also tight-lipped, and directed queries to the MOHW. When asked if the hospital could not comment on its own affairs, Dr Bruce said vaccines on the campus are coordinated at all three sites by the MOHW.

When the Sunday Observer initially contacted Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the MOHW he first said he was unaware that the ministry was now managing the vaccine centre at UHWI. After making further checks, Bryan said there was a bit of confusion and the hospital was now beginning its process to resume vaccination starting Monday, April 12.

“UHWI was in the first instance vaccinating their health workers. After they completed the vaccination of health staff then they moved to the vaccination of the general population,” he said.

Regarding claims of vaccine misappropriation, Bryan said he was not aware of such occurrences “at this time”.

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