Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Friday denied rumours suggesting that he did not actually receive a dose of the Covishield-AstraZeneca vaccine in Kingston last Monday.
“The nurse was highly proficient in administering the shot. I didn't feel any pain greater than a mosquito bite. The needle is one of the thinnest gauges and pierces the skin and muscles easily,” the prime minister told the Jamaica Observer exclusively.
He said that the vaccines trigger the immune system in the body to develop the natural capability to fight the virus if the person is exposed to it. And, upon receiving the vaccine, therefore, he continued, the immune system should start to react by producing the antibodies to fight infections.
Holness said by 11:00 pm on the night of taking the vaccine he began to feel the effects of his immune system reacting to it.
“I had a low-grade fever which lasted through the night and, in the morning, I felt lethargic. Nevertheless, I was still able to fulfil my appointments, including an international meeting and debating matters in Parliament,” he stated.
“By Wednesday morning, after going to bed early on Tuesday night, I was fine, except that the area where I got the jab is mildly sore. The reports from persons who have taken the vaccine are similar to my experience of slightly elevated temperature, tiredness and mild soreness at the injection spot for a day or two,” he said.
“I am told that the immunity does take some time to build, so I am still maintaining all the protocols to prevent infection and spread,” the prime minister added.
Holness went on to explain that the process of vaccination is only effective in ending the pandemic when there are enough members of the population who have immunity to the disease.
“In other words, if the virus gets into your body the natural immune system can fight it on its own without need for hospital care or even medicines,” he stated.
“As the SARS-CoV-2 virus is new to the human population; our immune system is naïve to it. Our immune system doesn't have the antibodies readily produced and deployed to attack and kill the virus, before it causes a disease or impairment of the proper functioning of the body. Vaccination is a well-established science of getting the immune system to pre-emptively respond to an invading virus without developing the disease it causes,” he noted.
“There are many fears being stoked and circulated against vaccination. While I am no expert, most of the concerns are sufficiently addressed in readily available information from trusted sources,” Holness pointed out.
“What I do know is that the pandemic will not end until the population has developed immunity, either by the virus infecting a large percentage of the population, which would lead to a kind of natural selection, where persons with strong immunity to this particular virus would survive and those with weak or weakened immunity would die if they are unable to prevent infection. Or, we could go the route of getting the vaccine and building the immunity preemptively in the population increasing the chance of our collective survival,” Holness stated.
Holness and his wife, Juliet, as well as Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding, received their COVID-19 vaccine jabs at The Good Samaritan Inn last Monday, in a joint effort to encourage the Jamaican population to use the vaccines as a deterrent to COVID-19. However, some Jamaicans have claimed that the vaccine is useless and accuse the Government of carrying out the dictates of US multi-billionaire businessman Bill Gates.