Vaccine sceptic turns crusader
WISE construction worker Ricardo Green transports 19 family members and friends to get COVID-19 jabSunday, September 12, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
A few weeks ago, Ricardo Green was among the many COVID-19 vaccine sceptics. Today, he is responsible for getting 19 family members and friends to vaccination sites, after he took the jab and went on a crusade persuading others to do the same.
The 34-year-old, who lives on Lady Huggins Avenue, off Shortwood Road in the Grant's Pen community of St Andrew, told the Jamaica Observer that he was motivated after his boss, Douglas Gourzong, CEO of WISE Construction Group Ltd, took the vaccine and influenced all 30 of his employees to get vaccinated.
“I wasn't against the vaccine, but I was wondering what this thing was all about and if I should take it. I was basically waiting and seeing what was happening. A morning time, my boss and I always have dialogue. He is always texting me and thing, and if there is anything about COVID, him always share it with me. And then he took the vaccine and was okay, and based on what I see happening, I decided that taking the vaccine a the best thing. So I got it and I am waiting on the second dose,” Green shared with the Sunday Observer, a few days after the newspaper highlighted the WISE Construction story.
Green, a construction worker, said he is from a large family and it was his mission to ensure that his immediate family especially, is protected from the novel coronavirus.
“Me and my family live together. It is six of us in one house, and trust me, every Sunday now mi start carry them to the National Arena fi go get the vaccine — one by one,” he said laughing. “How I see it is that if a man looked out for the best of my health, I have to look out for other people too,” he said of Gourzong's effort.
“If yuh wise, yuh a go tek the vaccine. Don't be foolish. Be wise,” Green added.
The first person he took to the National Arena was his spouse, after that he took his mother and his son.
“From yuh ready, mi will bring yuh. It's all about having a safe community because my kids are here,” said Green.
“My first family member I brought after me was my baby-mother. At first, she was resisting it and was saying she didn't want to take it, but seeing what's happening in the news and seeing the importance of it, and the fact that she works in a fast food restaurant and have to deal with the public, she took it. I took her one day along with some of her colleagues and she did it. After that, I brought my 58-year-old mother, my 12-year-old son, my niece, nephew, and others,” he continued.
Green's mother, Jacqueline Clarke, told the Sunday Observer that she was initially sceptical about taking the vaccine because of her underlying illness.
“I trouble with diabetes, and I was kinda afraid to take the vaccine. Then he went and take his and others took it, and he came and told me about it so I just made up my mind. That convinced me to take it. He took my granddaughter as well and we all went and took it, and taking it was like nothing. It was like a regular injection. I didn't have any pain or symptoms,” Clarke said.
“If my son wasn't doing all this, maybe it would take me a longer time to get it. It's because he took it and my daughter took it and I see that nothing is wrong that I decided to take it. That gave me the motivation,” she added.
Green's stepson, Kimmani, said he was happy his dad took him to get vaccinated, as he is now able to benefit from face-to-face classes at school.
“I thought it was going to be hot but it never hot. But after, mi hand did a hurt mi and mi take Panadol and it stop after two days. After that, everything was good. A me alone him did bring and mi never fraid a it. Mi glad him bring mi to take it because now mi can go a school,” the boy said.
Dacia “Desha” Ellis, Green's long-time friend, told the Sunday Observer that while she was pro-vaccine, it was Green's willingness to transport her to the National Arena that resulted in her getting the jab.
“From the vaccine reach and my prime minister say it okay, mi say mi a tek it. Mi nuh listen social media and mi nuh follow people. But because mi affi hustle during the days, and the days already shorter because of the curfew, mi seh I would have to do mine on a weekend. Mi hear seh him [Green] go take the vaccine and mi come check him and ask him fi bring mi and him say yes,” Ellis recalled. “From the other day, mi realise seh a him a support everybody and a bring people go get vaccine, so mi ask him.”
Added Green: “As a community, you can't look out for your family alone. You have to look out for the entire community at the end of the day. The more persons in the community that are vaccinated, the better. It's not that you won't catch the virus if you are vaccinated, but you won't be seriously affected.”
Ellis said she is proud to have a friend who was so ready to assist her in making such an important decision.
“Mi know him long, long time now; countless years. It make me feel good. It must make me feel good. At least mi can call pon mi friend and him do something fi mi,” she stated.
Green's campaign has extended far beyond his community.
“I brought some friends from up by Gordon Town as well… I just went and pick them up and carry them to get it. They wanted to go but they were afraid,” he told the Sunday Observer.
While many people relax at home on the no-movement days imposed by the Government to help reduce spread of the virus, Green uses them to get as many Jamaicans as possible to the vaccination site.
“My intention is to bring as much persons as possible to get the vaccinate. The more persons, the better. It cyaan too much. If dem cyaan find fare, me will go into my pocket and buy gas and bring dem. All 19 persons so far, a me drive dem to the vaccination site. I use up the no-movement days to do that,” he boasted.
“We have to look out for each other. And if you have love for people, you will look out for each other. You won't look out for yourself alone. If you don't look out for each other it don't make no sense. I am a humanitarian and I am a people person. Mi love people. That a one of the reason why I am doing this,” he said.
So far he hasn't faced any major pushback from people he has approached.
“Some of dem seh dem nah take it and some of dem seh dem a watch me first. And you have one and two that are afraid and some who will hide and go do it. They don't want anybody to know that they got the vaccine. Some will try convince you not to take it, but mi tell dem say mi done take it already. But other from that, I don't really get any fight from anybody,” he told the Sunday Observer.