Fri | Jan 21, 2022

We need functioning systems

Published:Wednesday | December 8, 2021 | 12:08 AM


I went to a COVID-19 vaccination site recently, having booked an appointment on the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ website. I turned up 15 minutes early and was not surprised to see people already lined up, all having the same 9:00 a.m. appointment. We stood outside in a line that, theoretically, should have us six feet apart. Regrettably, the tropics would not allow for compliance, so persons bundled wherever the sun had not yet settled.

It was 90 minutes later when I was called in to register; sent to another section; sent on to have a seat; waited another 30 minutes; received the vaccine; then served the 15-minute observation period. During this time, I witnessed staff amending vaccination cards with errors and scrambling to secure additional vaccines for ‘legitimate’ persons who turned up at the site.

I soon noticed persons turning up in droves, allegedly sent from a nearby site. They reported being turned away, as the site had no vaccination cards to facilitate first doses. The nurse-in-charge who graciously accommodated the first group, thereafter started turning people away, as she did not have sufficient resources to facilitate them.

There have been plenty reasons advanced for Jamaicans not getting the vaccine. Maybe I’m too narrow-minded, but I would never imagine that, on the flipside of those tales, people willingly turn up and are turned away because someone forgot to collect the cards on their way to work.

The Government has the principal obligation to set things right. We need systems that offer comprehensive support – social, financial, logistical and political.

So, before we require proof of vaccination for admission to the National Stadium, for instance, we have to ensure that the systems are not only in place, but, most importantly, functioning to provide ample opportunity to all.