Fri | Jul 30, 2021

No COVID-19 vaccines for kids just yet – Ennis

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Ennis
Ennis

WESTERN BUREAU:

Dr Melody Ennis, director of family health services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, says that while consideration may be given later this year for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Jamaica is not yet in a position to administer child-specific vaccines.

“We are a part of the COVAX [COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access] facility. Being in the COVAX facility, we may have options later on in the year to access other vaccines that may be suitable for children, but we are not quite there at this time,” Ennis said last week during an online press conference held to give an update on the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ vaccination plans for Jamaica.

“It is the Pfizer manufacturers that have pushed for children down to the age of 12 to receive the vaccine, and that is being done in jurisdictions where Pfizer vaccines are available. The other entities, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, are still at ages 18 and up,” Ennis added.

Last month, Moderna announced that its vaccine could protect children as young as 12 years old. The vaccine distributor aims to follow behind Pfizer and BioNTech, whose vaccines have been authorised by the United States and Canada for use in children beginning at age 12.

LEVEL OF DISTRIBUTION

In the meantime, Ennis noted that the Ministry of Health would have to take note of which vaccines Jamaica may get later this year, and how many of each batch, to determine the level of distribution among the populace.

“We may be able to get a variety of vaccines later down in the year. We certainly would need to look at the number of vaccines and the types that we are getting, and possibly look at who we may offer the Pfizer vaccine to, if it becomes a part of our suite of distribution,” said Ennis.

Jamaica has so far received the AstraZeneca vaccine for distribution of first and second doses, particularly among the country’s over-60 population. Jamaica also secured some 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in March.

However, the Ministry of Health is reporting that, as at June 10, over 93 per cent of Jamaica’s populace has not been vaccinated. Just over one per cent of persons have been fully vaccinated with both COVID-19 shots, while five per cent have so far taken only the first dose.