Jamaica’s Opposition warns against vaccine use past expiration date

Jamaica’s Opposition Spokesman on Health and Wellness Dr Morais Guy says the Opposition will reject any attempts by the government to use expired AstraZeneca vaccines in the rollout of its vaccination campaign. 

Guy made the statement in light of news that 75,000 doses of the vaccine, which the country received last Thursday through the African Medical Supply platform, are slated to expire today; with the Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie noting that the Ministry of Health is awaiting authorisation from the manufacturers to continue using the jab after the expiry date. The CMO pointed out that other countries had already made plans to use their vaccines up to three months beyond the recommended six-month shelf life, based on their own trials and observations that the vaccine is still effective.

Guy slammed the move as an “ill-advised plan”  pointing the government to a publication by the European Medical Agency on January 29, 2021 that specifically warned against the use of coronavirus vaccines after their  expiry dates. 

Guy said due to the nature of formulations in drugs, they are not to be used after expiry, and this regime is even more strict for vaccines. 

According to Guy, the use of the expired vaccines could expose the Jamaican population to health risks and consequently, the Opposition is not in agreement with this plan. He further noted that some vaccine manufacturers were already seeking indemnities from governments for use of the vaccines. 

“Had the Government been forthcoming about the expiration date of the recently acquired shipment of vaccines, and alerted the public of the reduced usage window, I am sure people would have cooperated with requests for immediate take-up. Instead, citizens were left to make the discovery on their own,  reducing public confidence. As it is now, some may not even want the vaccine,” Dr Guy said. 

Guy argued that there already is vaccine hesitancy in Jamaica and the government’s handling of this issue will only serve to heighten scepticism.  

He said based on the manufacturers’ labelling, the Opposition had no problem with the vaccines being used until today, April 13, 2021.  

 “Anything else will put the population at risk, and Jamaica will lose the protection of AstraZeneca,” added Guy.