Good response to new COVID-19 vaccination blitzSunday, August 01, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
More Jamaicans began showing up at vaccination sites yesterday as the Government rolled out its latest inoculation blitz after the arrival of 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot Friday, courtesy of the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness credits the response to the fact that the vaccination process is now open to individuals as young as 18 years old.
Across multiple vaccination centres yesterday many groups of families could be seen sitting under tents filling out vaccination forms. Some rocked to music in waiting areas while awaiting the return of their older relatives who were taking the jab.
Winston Chong, 74, who received his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine a month ago, told the Jamaica Observer that he brought five family members to the National Arena in St Andrew get their first doses yesterday.
“I didn't have any severe reaction, just a slight ache in the joints and that was it. In no time it went. I felt nothing at all. Everything was great. So today I brought my cousins to get theirs,” he said.
“The risk of not taking the vaccine is greater, especially if this new Delta variant comes… it will knock us down. So I carried five people here today,” he said.
A few minutes after getting his first jab, one of Chong's cousins, 68-year-old Danny Lau, told the Sunday Observer that he felt no ill effects.
“I got my first dose today. It was a quick jab and then it was over. I didn't feel anything.”
A 38-year-old teacher, who gave her name only as Shelly, said she was at the Arena to get her first dose because she had a COVID-19 scare on Friday.
“This is my first dose. I came out today with my mother. I was in a session yesterday and my son came to me and told me that he was feeling pain. I took him to the doctor and, because his fever was high, he did a COVID test,” she said.
Though the test came back negative, Shelly said that the experience got her thinking about the possibility of her getting the virus and what that would mean for her family.
“If something happens I still need to take care of them. So, if the vaccine gives me even a one per cent chance, I'll take it. That's why I decided to do it today. My mom was kinda scared, but she has been listening and knows the importance. When I got my shot I didn't even know or anything. I am afraid of needles, so I just closed my eyes and it was over before it began,” she said.
She described the process as easy and convenient, after both her and her mom were vaccinated in mere minutes after arriving at the site.
“Before you even finish writing up the form nurses came and were ready. The process was very speedy. The nurses took our information on a tablet, moved us to another area, and it was very quick,” she said.
Her mother, 58-year-old Catherine, sat beside her in the Arena awaiting her vaccination card. She told the Sunday Observer that the process was not as bad as she had thought.
“I am okay. I didn't even know that I got it,” she related.
“My daughter is the one who persuaded me to come out. I was just afraid. But mi know that my grandchild took sick yesterday and my daughter was fretting, so me have to fret too. He has to come to my house around me, so I have to come out. That pushed me a whole lot,” Catherine said.
At the HEART College of Construction Services in Portmore, St Catherine, Courtney and Nicole Samms sat waiting for their 18-year-old son, Joshua Samms, to be vaccinated.
“We are not afraid of science, and we are not fearful of the vaccine. My wife and I were already fully vaccinated, so we brought out son to get his shot. We want him, when he is going back to college in September, to be fully protected,” Courtney told the Sunday Observer.
“I wish I could get my son, who is 16, vaccinated too, but they have a cut-off limit for 18. So we will wait and see if they will lower the age limit,” he added.
At Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, an elderly man collapsed shortly after arriving. That didn't disrupt the flow of the operation, as the man, who had not yet been vaccinated, was assisted quickly by doctors.
Steve Beckford sat at his spouse filled out her form. Fully vaccinated, the justice of the peace persuaded her to get the jab as well on a quest to strengthen his household's fight against COVID-19.
“I brought my spouse today and I already convinced her and told her what the possibilities are and she decided to come on board. I think it is a good gesture. I am trying to persuade my mother too, but she doesn't believe yet, so I am not going to force her. Everyone has their own beliefs,” Beckford said.
“Even though we're vaccinated, we have to keep wearing the mask, because we know we have senior citizens in our household, like my mom, who aren't vaccinated yet, and we have to be concerned about them as well. If we visit her, we have to be in our masks, we still have to be more vigilant and cautious. And she has to be in her mask too,” he said.
Beckford told the Sunday Observer that he hopes more Jamaicans will start paying more attention to the factual information highlighted by the health ministry.
“Few people are coming in, but I think there are others that we need to bring on board. It is there. It is out there. This COVID is not a joke business. That is the scientific fact, and I think more people realise now. The country needs to be opened so our economy can be stronger,” he argued.
The turnout was pleasing to permanent secretary in the health and wellness ministry Dunstan Bryan.
“We are seeing the uptick in numbers as persons are aware that the process is happening and it is not restricted. We are seeing a mix of people coming out. What we found in the last set of blitzes that we had is that, because we restricted it to a particular population, it also restricted the population that we were trying to reach,” he said.
“It's the younger population that's bringing the older population. So now that we are open to 18 years and above, it's families that are coming. Families come with grandma, grandpa, and so we are getting the good mix of younger people who are the transmitters and the older people who have the most negative outcome from the COVID infection,” said Bryan.
If the number of young people who transmit the virus is reduced, Bryan continued, the number of elderly people who are affected will also be chopped.
“If you look at the statistics, the majority of the infection transmitters are between 18 and over to around 35. That's where the majority of the infections are,” he said.
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