Jamaica receives first shipment of vaccines under COVAX programme

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton (second left), speaks with World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Representative, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi (left) Sharing in the discussion are Advisor, PAHO Health Emergencies, Dr Marion Bullock-DuCasse (second right); and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Mariko Kagoshima.

Jamaica received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX (COVID-19 Global Access) programme on Monday, March 15.

A total of 14,400 doses of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccines were off-loaded at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Jamaica is the first country in the region to receive vaccines under the COVAX programme.

Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO representative, has assured Jamaicans that the vaccine is safe.

“The vaccines are very safe,” Dr Theodore-Gandi told the Jamaica Observer. She said although the drugs were introduced recently, research on a similar type of vaccine had been ongoing for many, many years.

“Because of the [novel coronavirus] pandemic, we had to accelerate production and research. The vaccine has been used by over 200 million people in the world and we have not seen any evidence of serious adverse side effects,” she said.

Her assurance comes after several European countries have suspended use of the vaccine over fears it might be causing blood clots.