Regional vaccine rollout: Is Jamaica last?

Jamaica received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines, a donation from India, on Monday.

While Jamaica began rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination programme today, the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are ways ahead of the curve and were among the first in the region to begin administering the jabs.

In the COVID-19 vaccine race, it pays to be a dependent and part of the colonial system retention with the majority of the British Overseas Territories and the Dutch colony of Aruba, already having a leg up on independent nations like The Bahamas and Jamaica.

Being smaller and less populous also has advantages with Barbados and St Lucia being able to administer doses to significant portions of their populations.

Nurse Fiona Ellis (left) administers Jamaica’s first COVID-19 jab to health care worker Marcia Thomas-Yetmam . Looking on is Health minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

But is Jamaica really that behind? Here’s a snapshot of the vaccine rollout in four Caribbean countries.

Cayman Islands

Cayman was one of the first in the region to start inoculating residents with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, after receiving its first shipment from the United Kingdom on January 5.

A total of 9,750 doses were delivered in the first shipment.

As of February 23 the island nation said that almost 20,000 residents, or about 40 per cent of its adult population, have been fully vaccinated.


Barbados received its first shipment of 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a grant from India on February 9.

The island nation began rolling out the jabs on February 11 with public health nurses and other health care staff among the first to receive the vaccine.

On March 2, Prime Minister, Mia Mottely, announced that 29,186 individuals had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, Mottely noted that there was a disparity emerging in the statistics which showed that men were least likely to get inoculated.

St Lucia

St Lucia received its first gift of 1,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Government of Barbados on February 10.

The country began its COVID-19 vaccination programme on February 17 with physicians and other medical officials among the first to get the jab.

Key government officials, including Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, also got the vaccine in a live broadcast.

Later, the country on March 1 received 25,000 doses of COVID-19 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from India, five thousand of which were donated to Dominica.

As of March 5 the country reported having vaccinated 4,883 individuals.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago began rolling out its vaccine programme on February 17 after receiving 2,000 vaccines from the government of India. While quick out of the blocks, the twin Island republics vaccination programme hit a snag as it continues to wait for its shipment from the COVAX facility. To date Trinidad and Tobago has vaccinated 1100 individuals, primarily healthcare workers.