Tufton gets jab!
Health minister says he didn't yield to public pressure to take COVID-19 vaccineSaturday, March 20, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
CHRISTOPHER Tufton yesterday kept his eyes on a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that was being waved above his head at Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine by public health nurse Teldra Burrell-Lewis for all to see, before administering the health and wellness minister with 0.5 millilitres of the drug.
Tufton, who was casually dressed in a black T-shirt, immediately gave a thumbs up after getting the jab.
Responding to a question from the Jamaica Observer, Tufton said he had not yielded to public pressure to take the vaccine, because he was always willing to lead by example to influence others to get vaccinated.
“I am very happy to be an example to encourage others. If I can encourage one person to take the vaccine then I believe it will be a good thing, so I don't mind being an influencer. However, this move to get vaccinated is not because of pressure. I had always planned to get vaccinated, and it is just that this is the time now for me to do it,” the minister said.
There has been public pressure since the vaccination programme started last week for the health minister and prime minister to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament Thursday that he would be taking the vaccine when parliamentarians start receiving their shots in the next phase.
According to nurse Burrell-Lewis, who administered the vaccine to Dr Tufton, people who had received their first dose have reported only minor side effects.
“For all the people who already received their vaccine, they experience the common side effects like every other vaccine, which is probably a swollen arm, a mild pain in the arm, low-grade fever, and a feeling of being flu-like, which is a little weakness, a little malaise, where you just want to rest and stay in your bed, nothing severe,” said the public health nurse.
Burrell-Lewis added that most people have expressed a big fear for needles, rather than the content of the vaccine.
“I think it is a matter of being fearful of injection than anything else. When I questioned them, they would just say, 'Mi fraid a injection inuh Nurse.' I would have to calm them down and tell them it is just like any other injection. Police and everybody, they are all afraid of it, but it is not that they are afraid of AstraZeneca.”
Burrell-Lewis said the inoculation process had been progressing well, and pointed out that some people, who had previously shunned the idea of taking the vaccine, were now being vaccinated.
“The turnout has been good. Some persons were stating before that they were not going to take it, but they actually made up their minds and came out and took it. On Thursday, I was at the Spanish Town Prison Oval giving it to the Department of Correctional Services staff. I am just coming from the police academy, where I was assisting them in administration. Yesterday (Thursday) we did about 108, and I probably gave about a quarter of that,” said Burrell-Lewis.
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