Members of the public came from near and far to take the jab at Kingston Wharves’ (KWL) Kingport Building on Tuesday (February 1), as the company hosted its fourth Port Community Vaccination Blitz. The vaccine sessions have been put on by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in partnership with KWL and the Port Authority of Jamaica. So far, some 1200 persons have been vaccinated at the Blitzes hosted by KWL.
Kingston Wharves CEO Mark Williams expressed the company’s commitment to the national vaccination programme and the fight against COVID-19. “We support the goal of having an increased percentage of the Jamaican population vaccinated. It is vital to have healthy citizens, especially a healthy port community, given the inherent vulnerabilities from contact with persons travelling from different parts of the world. Critically too, the shipping industry is an integral part of the global supply chain, and having healthy workers will support the seamless movement of cargo for personal shippers, medical facilities and businesses,” Mr. Williams stated.
Lorna Higgins, Manager at United Freight Forwarders who attended the site to get her booster shot said the Blitzes are a positive initiative. “It is a great consideration by Kingston Wharves (to host these events), especially since the company plays such a pivotal role in this community,” she said, adding: “We are privileged to get this done here and now; it’s a great convenience, I just walk across the road.”
Nineteen-year-old Jordon Turner a Track and Field Athlete from Calabar High School came to get his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. “Vaccination is really important so I came here so get my first shot so that I can be protected from the coronavirus. I have heard that the vaccine is good against the virus, so I would recommend that people take the shot,” he added.
Kingston Wharves Stacker Operator Claude Mullings also took his first shot at the fourth vaccination session, admitting that he had adopted a wait-and-see attitude for religious and other reasons.
“Not saying I was against it. But I am a God-fearing person, and from the vaccine has been around I said to myself ‘I think I need to talk to God about this’, because there was so much (different) information around it. So I hold the brakes and give it about a year,” Mr. Mullings explained.
Then some months ago, he said, he took his 15-year-old daughter to get vaccinated for school and realized that she did not have any major side effects, and that moved the needle towards him taking the vaccine.
“At the session at Kingston Wharves I spoke to the doctor who was here and I liked how he brought it across; he convinced me the way I wanted to be convinced,” Mr. Mullings stated, adding, “I will share the information with my friends who refuse to take it and hopefully it will make them rethink their position.”
In the meantime, Ishane Roach, Assistant Supervisor at Adolf Levy said he took the jab to secure his health, and noted that vaccination was becoming the way of the world.
Dr. Lambert Innis, Head of the Mobile Vaccination Programme at the Ministry of Health and Wellness commended Kingston Wharves. “Each time we come to Kingston Wharves the experience gets better. One of the things that stands out is how Dean Williams and the KWL team are able to organise the day to ensure that persons from all the different organisations get the opportunity to be vaccinated while we are here. The response in my view has been very very good.”
Describing the event as a very pleasant experience for the medical team and the public, Dr. Innis said, “All the things we have asked for on the checklist—the necessities to ensure that the day runs successfully–have been put in place.”
He added: “One of the big pluses for Kingston Wharves is the turnout of staff to assist with registration and crowd control; I don’t think I have seen this anywhere else.”
Kingston Wharves’ Safety Health and Environment Manager Dean Williams expressed satisfaction with how the day progressed.
“There was a steady inflow of persons from many entities within the port community and farther afield. We are happy to continue providing critical resources so members of our community can have access to the vaccine to better protect their health and livelihoods,” Mr. Williams said.