The Health and Wellness Ministry is reiterating that there has been no death attributable to vaccination against COVID-19 in Jamaica since the administering of doses got started in March of last year.
According to Director of Family Health Services in the ministry, Dr Melody Ennis, 42 persons have died after being vaccinated.
However, 11 of those deaths were found to have been due to other causes, making their vaccination coincidental.
The other 31 deaths that occurred after vaccination are still under investigation, according to Ennis, who was speaking at Thursday’s COVID conversations press briefing.
“We have a report of 42 persons dying after receiving the vaccines. These, as you know, are cases that are under investigation. We have closed 11 of these deaths, and they have not been associated in any way, shape or form to the vaccine,” said Ennis.
“It was asked previously about the age breakdown [of the persons who died after receiving the vaccines]. The majority of those persons are over 78 years old, and they had underlying conditions, but our investigations continue,” she added.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, reminded concerned Jamaicans that persons who received the COVID-19 vaccines can still die from unrelated causes.
“I’ve said it over and over that persons who have received the vaccines – the vaccines do not protect them from dying from other reasons – and so, persons will still die from strokes, from heart attacks, from other types of infections, and yes, coincidentally, they would have received the vaccine,” stated the CMO.
“The fact of the matter is that if we had a 100 per cent of persons vaccinated, then we would see that all the persons who died would be vaccinated, so we have to understand that,” she continued.
“What is important to determine is, did the vaccine cause the death or was there any product in the vaccine that could have caused the death?” she emphasised.
For his part, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) representative in Jamaica, Ian Stein, said while it is understandable that persons are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 vaccines, he assured that the drugs “have been demonstrated to be safe”.
He elaborated that, “Country after country have been applying these vaccines in the billions of doses.
“While there are unfortunate situations where sometimes there is an association, that [of] attributability [or] tying the vaccine to an event is a very rigorous and difficult process, and the main takeaway here as we’ve seen globally, is that these vaccines are safe,” declared Stein.
Meanwhile, Ennis disclosed that there have so far been approximately 850 reports of adverse reactions or events supposedly attributable to vaccination or immunisation (ESAVIs).
She said a total of 176 of the ESAVIs is considered serious, adding that those include conditions that may be life-threatening and require hospitalisation, or may result in death.
No further breakdowns of the ESAVIs were provided by the health official.