“I don’t want to catch that awful thing,” 79-year old Lorna Rowe tells JIS News before entering the National Arena on Saturday (April 3) to receive her first dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
She was among more than 1,000 elderly persons, who came out to be inoculated against the deadly virus during the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ second Vaccination Blitz. The first event was held on March 27.
Ms. Rowe says she has seen the devastating impact of COVID-19 first hand on someone she knows, who has had to be hospitalised after contracting the illness.
She notes as well that her children, who reside overseas, encouraged her to take the vaccine.
Mrs. Rowe say she fells reassured about the safety of the vaccine, as her children have already received their two doses “and they are alright.”
Seventy-three year-old Daniel Adams, who has high blood pressure and diabetes, tells JIS News that he is “afraid of COVID,” especially after suffering a stroke last year.
He is encouraging Jamaicans to take the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is available to them.
Centenarian Hazel Espeut, who, at 104 years old, is the oldest person in Jamaica to receive the COVID-19 vaccine so far, says she “feels good” after taking the jab and is also appealing to citizens to get inoculated.
Ms. Espeut, who has the underlying condition of high blood pressure, says she made the decision after consulting with her doctor. She says she had no reservations about getting inoculated.
Ms. Espeut’s God-daughter, Malika Taylor, who took her to the Arena, shares that her God-mother has been “very careful” at home in observing all the COVID-19 protocols in order to keep safe.
“She doesn’t really go out much, it’s just visitors that come into her home that would have to be sanitised…There is a bottle of sanitiser at her gate, so as you enter you sanitise,” she shares, noting that visitors are not allowed to get too close to Ms. Espeut and they also have to wear a mask.
For senior citizen and businessman Novell Quest, getting vaccinated is in the “best interest of the community, the family, and in the interest of the broader community” and the surest way for faster economic recovery.
“If we are immunised, then the country is able to react better to the effects of the COVID-19 disease and we can get the economy going back better. So I think it is a good thing, and I think that everyone should try to do it,” he says.
Mr. Quest, who has done his own research on the COVID-19 vaccines, tells JIS News that “despite what is seen on the internet, the speculation, conspiracy theories and so on, the science behind the vaccination is quite sound, and especially for this AstraZeneca. It was (developed) in the traditional way, but it’s done much quicker, so I believe people should not have any fear of going ahead and taking the vaccine.”
The Vaccination Blitzes are being used to further boost the number of persons being inoculated, especially in the vulnerable cohort. Persons 75 years and older are now being targeted for vaccinations island-wide.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who was on hand to observe the proceedings at the Arena on Saturday, says that the Ministry has allowed persons outside of the priority group, who have special circumstances, to be vaccinated.
“If somebody comes and they are 74, say a wife and husband, we allow that, because for them to go and come back and they are close to the age, we can exercise a little flexibility and I do…if I get those kinds of requests,” he notes.
He is reminding persons, who have received their first dose to continue to remain vigilant in protecting themselves by adhering to the infection prevention and control measures.
These include the wearing of a mask, maintaining a physical distance of six feet or more from other persons, and frequently washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitisers.
Persons are being advised that the process to be vaccinated is simple, easy, and does not take more than two hours, from arrival, until they are discharged. In most cases, the process is completed within an hour.
This involves checking the database to verify the individual’s registration, filling out a vaccination card, health education/ counselling, administration of the vaccine then observation for about 20 minutes, after which persons are released to go home.
The intention of the Health and Wellness Ministry is to host 25 vaccination blitzes in all parishes over the next three months.
The locations for the vaccination blitz planned for the weekend of April 9 include: the National Arena in Kingston and St Andrew; Celebration Church, Portmore; the Social Development Commission (SDC) Office, St. Thomas; Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James; Lucea Anglican Church, Hanover; Denbigh Show Ground, Clarendon; St. Mark’s Anglican Parish Church, Manchester; St. Matthews Anglican Parish Church, St. Elizabeth; Bahia Principe Resort, St. Ann; Trelawny Multi-Purpose Centre, Trelawny; Gayle Civic Centre, St Mary; and Folly Oval, Portland.
Persons are encouraged to book their vaccination appointment by calling the National Vaccination Hotline at 888-ONE-LOVE (888-663-5683), or register online through the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ website at www.moh.gov.jm.
Persons can also make appointments by calling or visiting their parish health department or health centre; or by calling on visiting their private doctor.
To make the appointment, persons will need to provide their full name, telephone number, age, and home address. Persons must also provide a contact number with their booking.
Once the information is submitted, the registration will be entered into a prioritisation system, and a confirmation of appointment is then sent via email, call or text message.
On the day of their appointment, persons are advised to show up at the designated time and to take with them a government-issued identification, such as a driver’s licence, voter’s identification or passport. They are also reminded to wear a mask, sanitise and maintain physical distancing.
The Government has set a target to vaccinate 65 per cent of the population by March 31, 2022 and the process is being undertaken in phases.
A new age cohort for vaccination is be announced this week.