Public Health Nurse, Marcia Thomas-Yetman, is the first person in Jamaica to receive the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
She was vaccinated at The Good Samaritan’s Inn in Kingston on Wednesday morning (March 10), exactly one year after the first case of the virus was confirmed in the island.
Nurse Thomas-Yetman, who is employed to the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), falls within the category of professionals who are among the first set of persons designated by the Government to be vaccinated this week.
In an interview with media representatives immediately after she was inoculated, Nurse Thomas-Yetman said she was proud to be the first person to be vaccinated.
“I’m happy that I got it and I’m encouraging everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
Nurse Thomas-Yetman noted that in the moments leading up to receiving the vaccine she was nervous as she is afraid of the needle, but said that the experience was a pleasant one.
“I didn’t feel it (the injection). It was given on my right arm and I’m trying to find the spot. It’s not tender and it is feeling quite comfortable at this time,” she told members of the media.
“My greatest consideration was my fear of needles. That was my thought… but when I think of the benefits, that took precedence in terms of what it is going to do for me and my family, and the other persons that I may come in contact with in terms of protection from COVID-19,” she added.
Nurse Thomas-Yetman, who has served the profession for the past 27 years, said she is elated that the country’s vaccination programme is under way.
“COVID-19 has killed so many people worldwide. We have a number of deaths in Jamaica. I’m so saddened by it. It is really unfortunate that we have had so many cases, over the last few days in particular, and we want to ensure that all our population is protected,” she noted.
Nurse Thomas-Yetman added her voice to the call by the Government for Jamaicans to cooperate with the vaccination programme being rolled out in the fight against COVID-19.
“Wear your masks, sanitise, [maintain] social distance and get your vaccine for COVID-19,” she urged.
For those who are apprehensive about taking the vaccine, Nurse Thomas-Yetman said: “This vaccine is safe. Thousands and thousands of people across the world have been vaccinated with this vaccine and they’re still alive, they’re still doing well, and complications [are] minimal based on what we have been told from studies done.”
The Ministry is targeting the vaccination of more than 3,000 healthcare workers by the end of Wednesday, comprising 1,930 persons through SERHA; 530 through Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA); 520 through North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), and 300 through Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA).
At the end of week one, the Government intends to vaccinate 17,050 healthcare workers.
Next week, members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will be vaccinated.
The first shipment of 50,000 doses of vaccines, donated by the Government of India, arrived in the island on Monday (March 8).
The Ministry of Health and Wellness expects some 14,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on or before March 11.
Another 1.8 million doses are to be supplied to Jamaica, starting in April, under the African Medical Supply platform.