Jamaica first Caribbean nation to receive vaccines through COVAX Facility

Fifteen Caribbean countries will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX vaccines by May, according to allocation figures provided for the first round

Kingston, Jamaica, March 15, 2021 (PAHO/WHO)- Jamaica today received 14,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility, a global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The arrival marks a historic step toward ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. This delivery is part of the first phase of deliveries for Jamaica, and more vaccines are expected to arrive successively during 2021. According to the first round of COVAX allocations, Jamaica is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 124,800, the amount specified by COVAX.

PAHO’s Revolving Fund, which is responsible for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the countries of the Americas under the COVAX Facility, sent 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea. The vaccines arrived today at Kingston’s international airport.

“Seeing this arrival is very reassuring and it means that more people will be able to be protected from COVID-19,” said Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica. “We will continue to work with the country to support vaccination along with the entire package of known public health and social measures that we know can help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives,” she added.

The arrival of these first vaccines will serve to protect priority groups and those most at risk, such as health workers and older adults.

“We are pleased that Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean to receive vaccines under the COVAX Facility. Vaccination has proven an undeniable success in the public health toolkit to reduce the burden of infectious disease and vaccines under the COVAX facility represents a key part of our response to this global pandemic. The amount received will be used to inoculate our healthcare workers and other frontline workers, who have been at the core of our COVID-19 response,” noted Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness of Jamaica.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Jamaica, the country has recorded 31,305 confirmed cases and 492 deaths as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to official data from the country.

“Every dose arriving in Jamaica brings the promise of protection for more families from COVID-19 infection. Over time, this will bring the pandemic to an end and reduce its harmful secondary impacts on children. They can return to school, access critical services and reduce their vulnerability to violence,” said Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF representative in the country.

The 15 Caribbean countries that will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX vaccines by May include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago. Six of these countries (Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines) will receive the vaccines free of charge.

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