Feature
Midwife, Tenesha Smith (left), administers the AstraZeneca vaccine to 33-year-old Shatana Williams (centre) during a recent vaccination blitz at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland. Observing the process is 27-year-old teacher at Little London High in the parish, Moya Williams (right).

For Little London High School Teacher, Moya Williams, receiving the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine meant taking the first step towards the possibility of physically reuniting with her students, after more than one year of teaching online.

The 27-year-old was quick off the blocks to get the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a recent Vaccination Blitz at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, a day after the Ministry of Health and Wellness opened up inoculation for teachers and other workers within the education sector.

“I can’t wait to get back to the new normal and this is like the first step towards that. I like going out and I like to socialise and I miss doing those, so why not get the vaccine?” Miss Williams shares.

“The online schooling isn’t working for a lot of kids because they are unable to access the platform, so the sooner we resume face-to-face classes, the sooner the education system can have some sense of normalcy,” she tells JIS News.

Miss Williams says the vaccination process was seamless and praised the medical team for the high level of professionalism demonstrated at the inoculation site.

“The staff were very professional, the social distance was being practised and the areas [being used] were well sanitised. It was really a simple process and it was quick and painless,” she notes.

Miss Williams is appealing to educators to “come out and get the vaccine” once more doses become available, “so our lives can get back to normal”.

Twenty-four-year-old business teacher at the Discovery Bay High school in St. Ann, Devonte Stewart, had no reservations about getting the jab.

24-year-old teacher at Discovery Bay High in St. Ann, Devonte Stewart (right), converses with Head of the Trelawny Public Health Services, Lorene Whinstanley, during a recent vaccination blitz held at the Falmouth Health Centre.

 

The Wakefield, Trelawny, native was among a group of some 200 persons who came out to be inoculated against COVID-19 during an islandwide Vaccination Blitz at the Falmouth Health Centre.

He tells JIS News that immediately after news broke that teachers were added to the list of people being prioritised for vaccination, he went online to set his appointment.

“I can tell you that it was not because I was influenced by my peers, because none of them think it is okay to take the vaccine, but I believe we are paying too much attention to what the side effects might be, because even a pack of [tablets] that you might take there are side effects listed on the back of it, and we take it every day without taking notice of it,” he points out.

Mr. Stewart says while many individuals remain doubtful about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, science has proven the benefits far outweigh the risks.

In that regard, he is urging educators, and by extension Jamaicans, to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.

“We were taking vaccines from we were young without any form of influence because we could not decide for ourselves. I know persons would argue that those vaccines took years to develop and how is it that this one was developed in months, but I think we can counterargue and say science has evolved over the years and I believe if our scientist say that the vaccine is ready… who are we to judge that they are not right?” the young teacher argues.

“Many countries have been using them, I know of persons who have gone and taken the AstraZeneca vaccine and are okay. I think we should stop looking at it as if it is going to affect us,” he says.

Mr. Stewart is also encouraging Jamaicans not to subscribe to the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine and educate themselves about its effectiveness.

“My advice to you is to not follow the crowd and in saying that, you should think about it logically. Some persons believe that the vaccine is a scam… why would the country give us something to harm us; how would that benefit them,” Mr. Stewart says.

More than 135,000 Jamaicans have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine since March.

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.

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