Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Garth Rattray | Take the jab, avoid the knockout punch

Published:Monday | March 22, 2021 | 12:12 AM
Community health aid worker Kadian Esson-Valentine at the Windward Road Health Centre receives the COVID-19 vaccination from public health nurse Lorraine Holt on March 15.
Community health aid worker Kadian Esson-Valentine at the Windward Road Health Centre receives the COVID-19 vaccination from public health nurse Lorraine Holt on March 15.

I recently got my first Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab. I felt absolutely nothing when I got the vaccine. The Ministry of Health and Wellness staff was hard-working, courteous, helpful, informative, very professional, and efficient. After vaccination, a few people experienced one or two days of fever, headaches and injection-site tenderness; however, most only had very mild injection-site tenderness. I look forward to my second jab, when I know that I will be far less likely to catch COVID-19 and that, if I do, I will not end up in the hospital.

The Government has rightfully prioritised front-line healthcare workers, followed by other healthcare workers. The security forces were moved up to next in line, followed by government officials and the elderly (60 years old and above). Emergency workers, passport and immigration workers, and persons employed in early-childhood and secondary educational institutions will be vaccinated before the general population.

The vaccine is especially needed by individuals with co-morbidities; however, people who are immunocompromised should discuss the vaccine with their personal healthcare professional. Those with past COVID-19 infections should still take the jab. Although considered safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding, no dedicated studies were done with that group of women, so they should weigh their need for getting vaccinated against the risks associated with getting the virus. Youngsters under 18 years of age were not studied and, because they are less likely to experience severe symptoms from COVID-19, they should not take the jab until further information is available. Those with a history of severe allergic reactions to other vaccines or who have known allergies to many things should not take the vaccine.

An abbreviated version of the vaccination process is: registration, counselling, vaccination, 15 to 30 minutes of observation to make sure that you are feeling okay, documentation and the handing over of your signed vaccination card with a date for your second dose. The brochure (handout) reminds you that, in the extremely unlikely event that you develop untoward symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider or attend an emergency room immediately.

The jab is given in a shoulder muscle. Each dose is only 0.5ml; which is one-tenth of a teaspoon. The doses may be given eight to twelve weeks apart.

VERY SAFE

The World Health Organization and other authorising bodies deemed the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be very safe, as are the other vaccines. There have been only very rare adverse reactions worldwide, and no deaths attributable to the vaccination. Individual countries will assess how this vaccine performs against variant strains of the SARS-CoV2 virus. Many are holding out hope that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be unique in not only preventing or significantly minimising infection, but also in preventing transmission.

After receiving both doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, it is expected that we will all practise public health measures, like physical distancing, good ventilation, handwashing/sanitisation, and wearing masks properly, until the Government sounds the all-clear. Then and only then will we be able to return to pre-COVID-19 times of mingling without special precautions.

Do not believe mischievous rascals who disseminate sensationalistic falsehoods. If citizens do not take the jab, more people will become sick, our hospitals will be continuously overcrowded, more people will die, and the longer we will have to live under these restrictions and watch as our beloved country sinks deeper into economic problems. If most Jamaicans do not become vaccinated, life will become interminably dangerous and challenging. When other countries are properly immunised, and their COVID-19 infection numbers fall, they are going to issue travel advisories for Jamaica and label us unsafe for tourists and business people.

Please listen to the official experts and ignore the natter of negative social media posts. Take the jab. Save yourself and save Jamaica from a brutal knockout punch. Your people and country are depending on you to do the sensible thing.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.