Sat | Dec 4, 2021

V-DAY!

As vaccine is rolled out today, battle for trust begins

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2021 | 12:30 AMJonielle Daley - Staff Reporter
An official inspects vials of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Health Fund’s warehouse on Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, on Monday. Jamaica begins its vaccination programme today.
A woman walks past the Spanish Town Hospital on Tuessday. A COVID-19 field hospital is being set up on the premises.
Patsy Edwards-Henry is urging Jamaicans to digest the information on the COVID-19 vaccine issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
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Fear of the coronavirus has convinced Maureen Haslam to take the coronavirus jab the first chance she gets. But the 35-year-old Spanish Town resident still has lots of unanswered questions about the vaccine. Waiting...

Fear of the coronavirus has convinced Maureen Haslam to take the coronavirus jab the first chance she gets.

But the 35-year-old Spanish Town resident still has lots of unanswered questions about the vaccine.

Waiting outside the outpatient clinic of the Spanish Town Hospital, Haslam said she was unaware of the vaccination process, the possible side effects, or if children would be beneficiaries. She also did not know the location of any of the 74 satellite sites.

However, the prioritisation of healthcare personnel as the first in line to get the jab has boosted her faith.

“So maybe if a did something fi hurt we, then dem wouldn’t give doctors,” said the mother of six.

Less than 48 hours after 50,000 doses of the India-gifted AstraZeneca vaccine landed in Jamaica, front-line healthcare workers will be queuing up today to get inoculated.

But doubting Thomas like Lisa McLean will make the job of winning hearts and minds difficult for the Holness administration.

Antivaxxers in Jamaica and across the globe have bristled against the vaccine, drawing on long-held reservations about medical innovations. They have also churned out conspiracy theories by the dozen.

McLean is not unique.

“Dem have some tricks ‘bout the vaccine because first thing dem ago say is if you don’t take it, you can’t travel,” said McLean.

Dismissing the 460 COVID-19 deaths as falsehoods, another young woman, who requested anonymity, said the virus was not real and that the crisis was fabricated.

Sociologist Dr Orville Taylor believes there is a direct correlation between persons who flout the Disaster Risk Management Act protocols and those who have closed their minds to taking the vaccine.

“People will remain undisciplined as long as they feel like they can do things and get away with it,” he said, recalling the responses of both the government and the public last year when there was a stay-at-home order and Jamaicans reacted fearfully to symptoms of the coronavirus.

Taylor, head of the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, Mona, said that a paradigm shift in behaviour and attitudes will be a mountain to climb for the Government.

The intensity and loudness of the antivaxxer lobby make them outsize influencers on social norms, he said. That minority “is still large enough to have an impact,” he told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

He has warned that many of those resisting the vaccination programme may never change until the crisis becomes personal.

“They are going to have to get the message and get the message very forcefully,” the sociologist said .

Jamaica has registered more than 27,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since it first emerged here on March 10, 2020.

With thousands of cases being recorded in the last two weeks, Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) President Patsy Edwards-Henry is appealing to citizens to digest the information issued by the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

This plea comes following a survey showing that approximately 200 nurses are either in quarantine or isolation nationwide.

Twenty-seven nurses affiliated with the University Hospital of the West Indies are out of commission and 20 at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

jonielle.daley@gleanerjm.com