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MP Cousins accuses Gov’t of vax politics

Published:Friday | September 3, 2021 | 12:11 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer

Clarendon South Western Member of Parliament (MP) Lothan Cousins is crying foul, alleging that the Government is playing politics with COVID-19 shots as his constituency is the only one in the parish without a vaccination site.

Cousins, the sole MP aligned to the opposition People’s National Party in the parish, believes the situation reeks of political vendetta as no jabs have been administered there since the islandwide roll-out of the programme.

“Enough is enough! Not one in the constituency, and I have been pleading. I’m fed up. It’s a disgrace,” he lamented to The Gleaner, adding that his pleas have fallen on deaf ears while his constituents clamour for inoculation sites closer to home.

“They just can’t afford to go to May Pen and join long lines, especially the elderly. It’s unfair to them when other constituencies have vaccine sites in their backyard,” said Cousins.

The MP argued that with several schools and health centres across Clarendon South Western, there is no real reason why no site has been established in the area.

Cousins told The Gleaner that he expressed his concern to the Southern Regional Health Authority several weeks ago and was advised that a team would look into the matter, but no redress has been forthcoming.

Aneika James, a resident of Water Lane in Vere, is also upset.

James, who describes herself as an ambassador for health, has been transporting people in her area to various sites across the parish.

“We need a vaccination site. South West Clarendon is so big, and I’ve never see or hear of a vaccine site here. Some of the people don’t have no money and can’t find the fare fi go get vaccine,” she said.

Responding to the concern, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told The Gleaner that the vaccination programme was entering a new phase, which will partner with MPs under a mobilised community-based concept. He said that all constituencies would benefit from the initiative.

“Vaccine sites are selected based on a number of considerations, and it evolves and changes with time. In early stages, the sites were primarily centralised when vaccines were limited and the take-up would have been at its highest,” he said, explaining the current situation, adding that mainly town centres were targeted.

According to Tufton, vaccine sites are not fixed and would be expanded and adjusted, depending on the objectives of the ministry in the days to come.

“The sites also have to meet a minimum requirement of the ethical protocols of administering vaccines – the crowd control, the spacing, the place for emergency response if people have adverse reactions, those kind of things,” he explained.