Asha Wilks / Writer Gleaner
Organizers of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in downtown Kingston are looking to get Jamaicans to roll up their sleeves by throwing out portions of free fried chicken and cell phone credit.
The campaign, forged among KFC fast food chain, Telecom Flow and the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), is the latest initiative to generate interest as less than 14% of the population is fully immunized.
The vaccination campaign coincides with the expiration of more than 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca that are doomed to the dumpster – a telling metaphor for Jamaica’s sub-par vaccination schedule that targets 65% herd immunity to the dumpster. ‘by March 2022.
Organizers are optimistic that offering free KFC meals and Flow credit giveaways will make some people let go of their hesitation.
Maria Myers-Hamilton, executive director of SMA, said the organization sees it as part of its corporate social responsibility to reach residents of the many communities in downtown Kingston.
SMA, which is located in the heart of central Kingston, said chicken and cell phone credit were staples in poor households already fearful of the pandemic.
âI know that a number of people are suffering in silence in the city centerâ¦. Food is not something we take for granted [or] credit, âMyers-Hamilton said The gleaner in an interview on Saturday.
“The average man is suffering, the children are suffering … so we are just trying to make a difference in our community.”
Myers-Hamilton said those who take part in the jab will be able to listen to music and watch a football game on a big-screen TV while waiting to be seen.
“The Jamaican people are a social people (…) so we are trying to combine everything to make it a reality,” she said.
The theme of the vaccination campaign was âCome tek di jukâ.
With the emergence of private sector vaccine or PCR testing mandates and the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operationalization Working Group pushing for a similar push for public sector workers, Myers- Hamilton said the SMA will follow the Jamaican government’s lead.
She said, however, that citizens should take personal responsibility for protecting themselves amid the pandemic.
âCOVID is still a reality. We have to tackle this beast and try to get people on board so that we can get back to normalcy, âsaid the CEO of SMA.
âI just think people need to have a conversation rather than being forced onto it. If we vaccinate most of the population, then we are protecting the rest. “
The SMA is an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology. It is located at 13-19 Harbor Street in Kingston.