JAMAICA | Vaccinating Tourism Workers Essential to Safeguard Industry
KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 6, 2021 - President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, says that the vaccination of tourism workers is essential in safeguarding the industry.
“That is why we are driving this process as hard as we can to make sure that we help the people and we keep them healthy because if we don’t have them, we don’t have a tourism industry,” he said.
Mr. Reader was speaking to journalists at the COVID-19 vaccination blitz held at Moon Palace Jamaica in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Friday September 3.
The exercise was organised by the Tourism Vaccination Task Force, which is a collaboration by the JHTA, Ministry of Tourism and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ). The initiative is primarily targeting workers in the industry and is looking to expedite the vaccination of 150,000 persons over the next eight weeks in key resort towns across the country.
“Through this initiative… we are basically working together to ensure the ease of vaccination, free of charge,” Mr. Reader noted.
The JHTA President, who is also the Managing Director of Moon Palace Jamaica, informed that more than 55 per cent of workers at the resort have already been vaccinated.
“The first vaccination blitz we had here, we were expecting 150 people but once people came, got vaccinated, went back into the work areas and they were not falling over, we got 320 [people],” Mr. Reader noted.
“That is what is happening here now. Those people who did not get vaccinated then, they are coming out now to be vaccinated, and we will continue [these blitzes] for the next two to three months to make sure we can sell Jamaica as the place you can come and enjoy your vacation in a safe way,” he added.
Mr. Reader said that the high take-up of the vaccine will also help to alleviate the strain on the local health sector.
“Locals need to get vaccinated because when you are vaccinated, double or single, you still can catch the virus, but it also means you will not get sick to the [extent] where you have to put pressure on the hospital system,” he pointed out.
In the meantime, some 2,000 tourism workers have already been vaccinated using one of three vaccines made available to them at a number of strategic blitz sites organized by the new Tourism Vaccination Task Force, in its first three days of major activities.
Following on the vaccination of 1,200 workers at the Pegasus Hotel on August 30; over two days (September 2-3) Sandals Negril saw some 556 tourism workers taking their choice of vaccines, while at the Moon Palace in Ocho Rios on Friday, September 3, some 385 workers were vaccinated. However, Moon Palace had a previous blitz where 320 workers received the jab and to date 60 percent of its staff have been vaccinated.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said more blitz sites are to be set up in Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and the South Coast with the hope of vaccinating up to 600 persons per day at each. “The intention is not to impose on the existing health infrastructure to enable this vaccination programme, so the doctors, nurses and all infrastructural arrangements are being provided by us through the coalition,” he said.
The Minister made a personal appeal to workers in the tourism industry, their families and close friends to access these specially arranged blitz sites which are offering the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines free of cost. “We turn no one away,” he declared.