Vaccination campaign for transport operators | New
Judana Murphy / Writer Gleaner
The first COVID-19 vaccination campaign for workers and transport operators began today with the goal of vaccinating 65% of the group over the next four months.
The initiative has been dubbed “one shot and ready, two and drive”.
Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) President Egeton Newman said The gleaner that although workers are vulnerable to contracting the virus, reluctance to vaccinate remains a challenge.
âA taxi driver transports at least 40 people a day. A bus operator carries a minimum of 180 people and they must therefore be vaccinated. We plan to have 11 blitzes across the country. Our next stop should be Portmore and then Spanish Town, but we are doing our best to get through the parishes and if necessary we will have more, âNewman explained.
He shared that some 14,000 transport operators have lost their jobs since the pandemic and that with curfews and the shutdown of the entertainment sector, the “transport sector is losing tremendously.”
âI just want to encourage, not force transport operators in Jamaica to get vaccinated,â Newman said, urging operators to visit blitz sites or permanent vaccination centers across the island.
The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were available to transport workers and members of the general public who presented to the site today at the Half-Way-Three transport center in St Andrew.
Bus driver Errol Thompson took his first dose today, months after contracting COVID-19 in April.
He received clearance from his doctor on Monday and chose the location of the blitz because of convenience.
“It’s the right thing to do and with my job I think it’s very important to give myself that layer of protection,” said the 57-year-old.
Thompson, who has been a driver for more than three decades, said he had had a bad experience with the virus.
âI was crappy, lazy and just plain sick. I want to eat and I eat, âhe said, adding that he did not need to be hospitalized and used home remedies during isolation.
Thompson received a $ 3,000 gas voucher from the FESCO gas station company after his vaccination and although he didn’t expect it, he was grateful for the gesture.
Barrington McGowan, 56, has been a bus driver for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) for eight years.
He delayed getting the vaccine for fear of needles, but mustered the courage for the single-shot J&J vaccine.
“I have a family at home and I know myself in public and all kinds of people ah tek di bus, me, ah mek, I fix myself, I carry COVID in a meter, go give my pickney and my woman, âhe said. The gleaner shortly after receiving the jab.
McGowan, who was also concerned about the crowds that often showed up at vaccination sites across the company’s area, found the blitz site’s operations to be effective.
He pledged to encourage his colleagues to get vaccinated.
“If we nuh tek today, we haffi tek tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the Private Sector Vaccine Initiative (PSVI) project leader Saffrey Brown said she hopes to vaccinate at least 500 people by the end of the day.
âWe try to make sure that we provide access to vaccines in central spaces. Those who were ready to go out and get the shot have been vaccinated and others just want information, they want their questions answered, so a lot of what we try to do at PSVI is provide opportunities for let those questions be answered, âBrown explained.
BCIC chief marketing officer Lori-Ann Glasgow said the vaccination campaign was a continuation of her partnership with TODSS.
Glasgow noted that the transport sector consists of frontline workers who are essential for Jamaica to achieve collective immunity.
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