Jamaica likely to miss vaccination target, says The Economist

Labelling as “overly ambitious” Jamaica’s target to have roughly 70 per cent of the population immunized by March 22 next year, The Economist Intelligent Unit says COVID-19 herd immunity will not be achieved in the island until late 2022.

The Economist said it had previously anticipated that Jamaica would be one of the last countries in the region to vaccinate its entire population.

On Thursday, 75,000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Jamaica, which will help to provide coverage for the most vulnerable people living in the country.

But according to the latest country report, the low rate of vaccine acceptance among the population – including among front-line workers included in phase one – means that public engagement with the vaccination process is likely to be low.

The Economist also pointed to the fact that there are not enough healthcare workers to provide the jab rapidly across the island.

“If roll-outs in richer countries are anything to go by, logistical bottlenecks between delivery, storage and distribution are likely to delay the process,” the report, published on April 7, stated in part.

So far, the Government has received 89,450 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is expected to receive at least two more shipping in the coming days.

The Economist said because of the expected timeline for Jamaica to achieve herd immunity, the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels in early 2023.

96 PER CENT OF TARGET MET

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as of April 7, some 47,728 persons had received their first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. This represents 96 per cent of the target for the first month of the vaccine programme.

Some 16,875 healthcare workers have got their first jabs.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie on Thursday warned those who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine not to become complacent.

“After the first vaccine, there is a low efficacy rate. It’s just a small reduction in the number of cases that you would see than if you have never taken the vaccine, so persons must maintain their precautions,” she said during a press conference.

The health ministry is also reporting a decline in country’s positivity rate, a decline in the reproduction rate of the virus as well a decline in hospitalisation.

“These declines are early. It’s early and we cannot jump up for joy now because we really need to tighten up to get the numbers down more even though we are seeing a decline in the positivity rate, which is at about 30 per cent, remember where we want to get to be is five per cent. So there is a lot of way to go,” the CMO said.

“We believe that is a direct result of the restriction imposed that have decreased movements and we believe that the restrictions should continue to solidify the downward movement,” she added.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com