Medical Officer of Health in Manchester, Dr Nadine Williams is urging persons not to become complacent, as the COVID-19 cases and deaths decline. She insisted that persons should continue to follow the protocol and to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the virus.

Dr Williams made the appeal while being interviewed by Mello FM, during an immunisation drive at the Bishop Gibson High School in Mandeville, Manchester, which was organised by The Jamaica National Group under its ‘Immunise… Save Lives Campaign’, recently.

“We want persons to know that COVID-19 is still with us. Yes, the measures have been relaxed, but we are still having cases; persons are still being hospitalised and dying from COVID-19. We still need to protect ourselves by physical distancing and wearing your masks, and [avoiding] crowded places,” she said.

Addressing the issue of vaccine hesitancy, Dr Williams informed that some people do not see the need to be vaccinated, while others are afraid of taking the vaccine.

“Persons do not feel the need to get the vaccine as they said the vaccine does not prevent them from contracting COVID-19. Some persons are afraid because of the conspiracy theories out there that the vaccine is the mark of the beast or they might die or get severe reactions to the vaccine,” she shared.

Speaking to the issue of preference for vaccine brands where some Jamaicans may show a preference for the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, Dr Williams revealed that at least for Manchester- the uptake of the Pfizer has seen a slight increase since the Ministry of Health and Wellness made it available to other age groups.

Michael Bent, regional director of the Southern Regional Health Authority also underscored the importance of persons continuing to follow the protocols by wearing their masks, practising physical distancing and getting vaccinated, although curfew restrictions have been relaxed.

“Although we have some relaxation measures, it behoves everybody to take personal responsibility for his/her self. So you still have to follow the protocol, wear your mask, do not exceed the gathering limits, get vaccinated and stay your six feet distance,” he said pointing out that when the number of COVID-19 cases increases, it put a strain on the resources of the hospitals.

He said the Southern Regional Health Authority now has 120 beds and a field hospital available to COVID-19 patients.

Among rural parishes, Manchester has the third-highest incidence of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began in March 2020. It had registered 5,961 cases up to November 29.

The vaccination blitz at Bishop Gibson High school saw 394 persons, mainly students and parents, being vaccinated.

The JN Group, through the JN Foundation will be having another vaccination blitz, on Tuesday, November 30 in Plowden district in Manchester in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  Three available vaccines will be administered – AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer (for children 12 to 17 years and adults over 50 years). The vaccination blitz will begin at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.

Persons are being encouraged to register ahead of visiting the vaccination sites, although walk-ins will be accepted. They can register via the MOHW’s website, www.moh.gov.jm.

The JN Foundation is also offering an opportunity to persons who take the vaccine to benefit from a JN Money Card topped up with $2,500 if they upload a photo of their vaccination card on the JN Foundation website after being immunised. All they need to do is visit www.jnfoundation.com/immunisation, scroll down, and click the image ‘Immunise and Win’ to complete the brief form and upload the image of their card.