(from left) Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Health Minister Dr. Chris Tufton and Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, the chief medical officer
Jamaica’s health and wellness minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton announced that Jamaicans will begin getting vaccines from the COVAX Facility on April 21.

Dr Tufton made the announcement on Tuesday in parliament where he also tabled what he called the COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment and Vaccination Interim Plan. This plan details the national strategy for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in Jamaica.

According to Tufton, healthcare workers, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, members of the Jamaica Defense Force, correctional officers, custom immigration officers, parliamentarians, persons in infirmaries and the elderly are at the top of the list to receive the jabs first.

The vaccine is to be administered in two doses, which will be given weeks apart.

Vaccination sites will be set up at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Bustamante Hospital for Children, National Chest Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital, Mandeville Regional Hospital, Cornwall Regional Hospital and St Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital for frontline staff.

Some health centers are also being contemplated to be used as vaccination sites.

Dr. Tufton also detailed the phased rollout plan for vaccination. Phase one is expected to be completed this year. Other members of the population are expected to vaccinated in 2022 and beyond. The minister noted that the COVID-19 vaccine could become part of the island’s routine immunization efforts.

While the government hopes that the deployment of the vaccination will go smoothly, Tufton noted that convincing Jamaicans to get the shot will not be an easy task.

He announced that the ministry of health plans to embark on an education campaign to quell the vaccine fears of Jamaicans. Tufton noted that “vaccine acceptance” is an important part of the rollout program.

Tufton told parliament that the government will get nearly 300,000 of the vaccines from the first batch which is enough for five percent of the population.

Jamaica is scheduled to receive additional doses of vaccines on July 21 and December 21.