AHF Jamaica kicked off a three-month vaccination campaign with a four-day “Vaccination Blitz”, which has so far provided lifesaving vaccines to nearly 2,400 people. First up to receive the vaccines are vulnerable populations, including people living with HIV, but the shots are also available to the general public.
AHF Jamaica is helping the government reach its goal of vaccinating 1 million island residents by 2022, by offering vaccines at its Wellness Center, now designated as a government-authorized vaccination site. The vaccine initiative began in mid-September and is paired with HIV and STI prevention services, which have increased since adding the vaccination component. During the four-day “Blitz” event alone, staff tested nearly 300 people for HIV and distributed over 5,800 free condoms.
“We’re glad to join forces with the Jamaica Ministry of Health and Wellness to support its mandate of getting as many people vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible – particularly those people in our most marginalized communities,” said Dr. Kevin Harvey, Caribbean Regional Director at AHF. “We’ll continue educating the public on the importance of getting vaccinated, and of course, offering all our HIV services. Efforts like these allow us to fight COVID-19 and ‘the other pandemic’ – HIV/AIDS – simultaneously.”
Although the official vaccination campaign ends mid-December, AHF Jamaica will continue offering COVID-19 shots via Wellness Center appointments. The efforts also include a comprehensive educational component via social media and in-person counseling to help dispel any fears and hesitancy around receiving a vaccine.
“The experience was so warm and fun, and the educational session was not rushed—questions were asked and answered,” said “Vaccination Blitz” attendee Tahjea White. “I definitely would recommend this to my friends and family.” Fellow participant Keisha Bartley added, “I was vaccine-hesitant at first, but at AHF, it was easy going! There was no wait, the nurses are very friendly, and they even checked my blood pressure before getting the shot.”