Politicians no longer first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Politicians are no longer in the first group of people who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in Jamaica.
On Tuesday when the health ministry unveiled its interim vaccine plan, government officials were in the number one spot and were slated to get jabs at the same time as healthcare workers.
However, in a media release Thursday night, the Ministry of Health said members of parliament, the judiciary, parish councillors, senior civil servants and senior technical officers would get shots after key groups of persons.
The groups now ahead of the 577 government officials are health personnel, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defence Force as well as persons in the 60 and older age group.
The health ministry says vaccination of the priority groups will begin this month as soon as supplies arrive.
It says as additional stocks arrive, vaccination of the 60 and older age group will continue with the addition of the Jamaica Fire Brigade; Department of  Correctional Services; Jamaica Customs Agency; Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency; school personnel and government workers who interface directly with the public.
Only after these groups have been vaccinated will, parliamentarians and other government officials get their shots.
However, elderly government officials can receive the vaccine with the 60 and over group.
The change in the order of priority for the vaccine came amid criticism of the decision to put politicians at the head of the line.
Alverston Bailey, Associate Professor in occupational health and safety at the University of Technology, said he was at a loss regarding the decision.
Professor Bailey noted that World Health Organization's guidelines state that initial focus must be on direct reduction of illness and death as well as maintenance of critical services.
Dr. Bailey said he did not see how government officials fit into that objective.
Dr. Donald Gordon, President of the Association of General Practitioners of Jamaica, had also criticised the move. 
Both men addressed the issue Thursday evening on Radio Jamaica's Beyond the Headlines before the change was issued. 

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