Only 1% of Jamaicans will get COVID vaccine by April — Tufton

Jamaicans are being warned not to become complacent, despite news of effective COVID-19 vaccines.

Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, issued the warning as he sought to temper expectations surrounding the vaccine, which he noted would only be administered to 16 per cent of the population by the end of 2021. 

“I want us to be very clear that we can’t hang all of our hopes and afford to be complacent on the knowledge or the hope that there is going to be a vaccine very soon, and that most persons are going to have access to it,” said Tufton. 

“I mean, that is an ideal – but an ideal that is not likely to be achieved, at least not in the short term,” added Tufton.

“The fact is, we have another year or so before I think we will be in a position where the world can breathe a sigh of relief…”

– Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton

Tufton shared that one per cent of the population would receive the COVID-19 vaccine by April 2021, with seniors and those with co-morbidities, as well as, healthcare workers to be given priority. 

“The projected schedule, as we have it at this time, and I say it’s projected because it can change, is to have a vaccine ready for administration to some one per cent of the initial 16 per cent of the population by April 2021.

“One per cent. That is of the overall 16 per cent would get it initially, another three per cent by mid-2021. And the remaining percentage by the end of 2021,”added Tufton. 

There are multiple coronavirus vaccine candidates currently in preclinical trials. (Photo: CNBC)

Tufton explained that the COVAX facility, the entity Jamaica was to get its supply of vaccine through, had not yet approved a shot, adding that 163 candidate vaccines were in preclinical evaluations. 

The minister went on to state that the vaccine being administered in other jurisdictions was not part of the COVAX facility, but that there were three other vaccine candidates  in the final phases of development. 

Tufton also used the occasion to share that he believed that it would be approximately another year before the country could breathe a sigh of relief as it relates to the pandemic.

“The fact is, we have another year or so before I think we will be in a position where the world can breathe a sigh of relief that based on vaccination as a solution, significant progress would have been made,” Tufton said.