Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2021. 11:02 am CST.
By Zoila Palma: The Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) informed that on March 15, Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to get COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
Jamaica has received 14,400 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility, a global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The organizations note that the arrival of vaccines to Jamaica through the facility marks a historic step toward ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
According to the first round of COVAX allocations, Jamaica is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 124,800, the amount specified by COVAX.
“Seeing this arrival is very reassuring and it means that more people will be able to be protected from COVID-19. We will continue to work with the country to support vaccination along with the entire package of known public health and social measures that we know can help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives,” said Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica.
The arrival of these first vaccines will serve to protect priority groups and those most at risk, such as health workers and older adults.
Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness said that the country is pleased to receive the vaccines under COVAX and that it represents a key part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PAHO/WHO say that 15 Caribbean countries will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX vaccines by May. Those include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago. Six of these countries (Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines) will receive the vaccines free of charge.
COVAX seeks to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population of each participating country during 2021.
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