JAMAICA gets first tranche of US vaccine donation

JAMAICA gets first tranche of US vaccine donation

KINGSTON, Jamaica, August 20, 2021 - The first tranche of 600-thousand doses of Pfizer vaccines being donated to Jamaica by the Biden-Harris administration of the United States Government, arrived on the island this week and were met on arrival by prime minister Andrew Holness.

Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks | Derrick Scott PhotoJamaica's Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks | Derrick Scott PhotoThe vaccines, which arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, on Thursday, is part of the shipment referred to by Jamaican-American Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee at a recent town hall meeting hosted by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United Stated Audrey Marks.

The Congresswoman told the meeting that the vaccines donated by the US will strengthen Jamaica's effort to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

These vaccines  have been earmarked by the Government to prioritise the vaccination of children, 12 years and older, with parental consent,

This initial shipment comprises 208,260 doses, augmented by kits that include syringes, needles and dilutants needed to administer the vaccines.

Jamaican American Congressional Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee | Houston Chronicle Photo Jamaican American Congressional Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee | Houston Chronicle Photo The tranche is the first of multiple shipments slated to arrive from the US in the coming weeks and months and is the result of several meetings between Jamaica’s Ambassador and United States Congressional Black Caucus, which includes a number of Jamaican American congress representatives.

Over 600, 000 doses of Pfizer vaccines are being donated by the US Government to Jamaica.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Jamaica, Scott Feeken, headed officials who were on hand to receive the vaccines.

Mr. Holness expressed gratitude to US President, Joseph Biden, and Vice President, Kamala Harris, for the donation.

“These vaccines will be used primarily to target our youth population, to enable them to go back to school,” he stated.

Mr. Holness, again, encouraged all Jamaicans to take the vaccines, adding that the Government will not consider mandatory vaccinations at this time.

“However, the Government of Jamaica will engage in an effective consistent public education campaign to appeal to reasonable-minded Jamaicans, to appeal to Jamaicans who are uncertain… who may have some hesitancy, and to appeal to Jamaicans who may be nonchalant, that it is in your best interest, and it is in the country’s best interest for everyone to take the vaccines,” the Prime Minister stated.

In his remarks, Mr. Feeken said the Pfizer vaccine has been proven safe and effective against COVID-19 and all known variants.

“I understand that the Government of Jamaica plans to use many of these doses to vaccinate secondary school students across the country. We are happy to know that this donation will make it possible for Jamaica to expand its vaccination programme to include young people, which will help facilitate a move to in-person instruction for students and teachers,” he stated.

“I join with the Prime Minister and people like Dr. Sandra Lindsay, a Jamaican-American medical professional who was the first American to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in encouraging all Jamaicans who are eligible, to take the vaccine when they have the opportunity. Vaccination is our best path forward in combating the COVID-19 virus,” he added.

Education Minister Fayval Williams, said the Ministry welcomed “this generous gift of over 600,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccines which has been prioritised for children in our schools”.

“This is a very important development in our collective effort to ensure that more of our people get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. I know many parents and teachers are anxious to see the education sector return to normality or as near to normal operations as is possible, and a public education campaign to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated is one the vehicles we are using to get more people to embrace this important public health initiative,” Mrs. Williams said.

Meanwhile, Foreign  Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, and Health and Wellness, Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, thanked the US Government for its gesture, noting that the  vaccines are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to share America’s vaccine supply with the rest of the world.

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