The first set of vaccines to treat the Monkeypox disease is expected to arrive this month, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton. “We have a priority group that will be targeted, similarly to what we [did] with the COVID- 19 vaccine distribution, and once they arrive, we will offer it to that group,” he disclosed.

This comes as the island has recorded its fifth case of the disease, just before the beginning of the 2022/23 school year. Dr. Tufton is urging parents to be vigilant. “If there is any problem at all, go to your parish health office or report to your school nurse,” he added.

He advised that the same health and safety protocols that were in place to manage the spread of the COVID-19 virus within schools will also be maintained throughout thenew school year.

These include abiding by social-distancing protocols, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and designated areas for sanitisation on school grounds.

“The Ministry and the Ministry of Education and Youth work closely together. There are briefing sessions; we work with the school nurses and guidance counsellors; the schools are aware of what to look for and the recommendations to health centres, doctors and hospitals,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Senior Medical Officer and Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Jacqueline Wright James, said there is no need for panic, as the “[monkeypox case] numbers aren’t significantly high in Jamaica”.

“And more so for children, they are less infected than the adults. We have seen some paediatric cases worldwide; therefore, it is not impossible for a child to contract monkeypox,” she pointed out.

“We have come through the COVID-19 pandemic for the last two and a half years and those measures that we enforced to reduce the spread are really the same measures.