Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Enough vaccines for tourism workers soon, says Bartlett

Published:Tuesday | July 27, 2021 | 12:08 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


Despite global fears that new variants of COVID-19 could drive economies into the ground, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the Government is committed to providing adequate vaccine coverage for the workforce in the hospitality sector.

Bartlett said the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be an area of concern to the tourist industry globally, but sought to assure Jamaicans that special arrangements were being made to acquire adequate doses for hospitality workers.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said in a late-evening press conference on Monday that 1.4 million vaccine doses should be made available to Jamaica between this weekend and the end of September.

Howard Mitchell, chairman of the National Health Fund, said in a Radio Jamaica interview on Monday that 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are due to arrive within seven days. That will be followed by 168,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson.

Those confirmations were hinted at by Bartlett during his keynote address at Saturday’s launch of Key Advantage Training and Recruitment Solutions in Montego Bay.

“I just want to say that tourism is working on a response. As the week is over, I am expecting to hear something that will enable us to breathe a little sigh of relief, [so] for the tourism workers, there will be designated arrangements to respond,” Bartlett said.

The tourism sector took a massive hit last year, with global travel plummeting as countries introduced restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. More than 300,000 industry workers were impacted locally as the cruise sector ground to a halt.

The majority of tourism jobs have been reportedly restored.

According to the vaccination tracker on the Ministry Health website, as at July 16, nine per cent of the country’s population is current fully vaccinated. Jamaica aims to achieve 65 per cent herd immunity by March 2022.

The World Health Organization said that as at July 26, nearly 3.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally.

Since March 2020, more than 52,000 persons have contracted the virus and 1,178 have died.