Dunstan Bryan defended the health and wellness ministry’s decision to administer Pfizer vaccine doses to adults yesterday, despite criticism that it may have jeopardized the State’s intention to prioritize vaccination of children aged 12 to 18, as part of a push to reopen schools for face-to-face instruction.
Even as Bryan, the ministry’s chief accountable officer, packed sandbags during his appearance before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), anxiety grows among Jamaicans who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and, with the recommended three-week interval between doses now elapsed, are hesitant to receive the second jab.
A 25-year-old Maverley, St Andrew, resident informed Sir P yesterday that she had her first dose on August 29 and was scheduled to have her second injection on September 20.
“I have a little worry in it now that it isn’t here and I’m not sure when we’ll receive it, and after six weeks, I’m wondering whether it will have any adverse effects with the other dose that I’m getting.” There are simply too many questions. “I’m quite concerned,” said the woman who did not want to be identified.
She stated that when she realized she wouldn’t be able to have her second shot on the planned day, the first thing that sprang to her was, “If dem folks here genuine.”
“I assumed they had it [second dosage] in stock.” Why didn’t they just stop giving it to everyone and leave the second dosage to the individuals dem? It would have been far superior. But everyone comes and simply hands them out. “We’re dealing with something we shouldn’t be dealing with,” she continued.
When asked if she had lost trust in the health ministry’s competence to give vaccines, she responded, “I think they are extremely irresponsible, since they [are] urging people to take the vaccine.” Many individuals do not want to take it, and then there is only a handful that does. You should have made sure to record second dosages. Come on, it’s only been three weeks! We did not take a Pfizer for six weeks like AstraZeneca, nor did we take a single injection like Johnson & Johnson. Instead, we took a Pfizer for three weeks. Unnuh slackness! “Who wants to wake up now and take a booster injection if they don’t feel like nobody?”
A 40-year-old mother of two in the Corporate Area stated that, while she is not panicked, she is becoming concerned.
Her 14-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter were scheduled for their second dosage on September 24, she told Politricks Watch.
“The extra three weeks has pushed them to October 15, and I simply want to hear some positive news right now.” “I don’t want to enter next week and not know when dem are going to get dem second dosage,” the worried mother explained.
Only 34,193 youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 have been completely vaccinated, according to statistics submitted by Bryan to the PAAC yesterday, while 12,614 have gotten their first shot.
This equates to 81,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine being administered to the cohort out of the 208,000 doses that arrived here in August.
At the same time, Bryan informed the committee that there are still 890 Pfizer doses available for use at the discretion of local health personnel.
Bryan was responding to concerns raised by Juliet Holness, Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural, at Tuesday’s meeting and again yesterday, when she expressed her dissatisfaction with the health ministry’s decision to offer the vaccine to adults rather than just children, leaving nearly 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to expire at the end of September.
Holness claims that the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations might have been administered to people who received the Pfizer vaccine instead.
The PAAC is currently evaluating the Government’s first supplemental budget for the current fiscal year. In the context of the new coronavirus pandemic, an extra $33 billion in funding is suggested for the health sector, aid for the most vulnerable, and other essential sectors.
Bryan insisted yesterday that the ministry had not been negligent in its vaccination policy and that there was never a strategy to only provide the Pfizer vaccine to minors.
“The aim of the vaccination campaign [usually] is to vaccinate the vulnerable – that notion needs to be at the center of every policy debate that we’ve had.” We have prioritized this vaccine, but it does not discredit the first function of a vaccination program, which is to protect the vulnerable; thus, our conversation cannot and should never be about the exclusivity of any vaccine,” he argued, adding that there is a question about whether available doses of vaccines should be used up, or vaccines should be preserved to ensure that second doses are available.
The MP stated that she did not see a big push for AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccinations during the Pfizer blitz and that such vaccines should have been made accessible to adults at the sites.
Another 268,280 AstraZeneca pills will expire on October 31 and 100,800 on November 30 of the 369,080 doses already accessible in the nation.
Dr. Melody Ennis, the chief physician for the national immunization program, informed the PAAC that 170,000 individuals are now due for their second dosage of the vaccine.
Dr. Christopher Tufton, portfolio minister, declared on September 14 that no further Pfizer vaccinations will be provided as of September 15. This followed the minister’s declaration on September 9 that locations will cease providing the vaccination the next day. The government still does not know when the next supply of Pfizer vaccinations from the United States would arrive.
So far, just 291,050 Jamaicans, or 10.3 percent of the population, have received a complete COVID-19 vaccination, and little over 510,00 have received the first dose. Bryan stated that in order to meet the March 2022 objective of 1.9 million individuals, about 15,000 people must be vaccinated everyday.