Mon | Dec 6, 2021

110-y-o urges Jamaicans to take COVID shot

Published:Friday | March 19, 2021 | 12:21 AM
Dora Skeen, the 110-year-old Jamaican migrant who became the oldest person in Scarborough, Ontario, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dora Skeen, the 110-year-old Jamaican migrant who became the oldest person in Scarborough, Ontario, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Jamaican centenarian who became the oldest person in Scarborough, Ontario, to get the COVID-19 vaccine has urged her compatriots in her island home to get the life-saving shot.

Dora Skeen, 110, got her first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at her Canada home on Tuesday. Her second shot is scheduled for July.

Speaking with The Gleaner by telephone Thursday from her home, where she has lived for more than 30 years, Skeen encouraged all Jamaicans to get the vaccine when it was their turn.

“I am quite okay. I feel okay. I am still eating, drinking and sleeping since taking the vaccine,” said Skeen.

“At first, I had said I would not take the vaccine, but I changed my mind and I am glad that I did.”

She said taking the vaccine has not done her any harm.

Canada has recorded more than 919,000 coronavirus infections since 2020, with deaths topping 22,500. Jamaica is in its third wave of the virus, registering record deaths and infections in the last six weeks.

Born on December 29, 1910, in St Elizabeth, Skeen migrated to Canada in 1980. She worked as a nanny until age 80 and has always lived in Scarborough.

She had eight children – six still living – 20 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.

Skeen is optimistic about a post-COVID-19 era when life will return to normal.

“I want to be able to visit with my family, and to one day be able to talk to them without a mask,” she said.

Still living independently, Skeen has succeeded in keeping herself safe throughout the COVID pandemic by following the guidelines prescribed by Toronto Public Health: social distancing, washing her hands, wearing a mask, and staying isolated as much as possible from others.

With Member of the Provincial Parliament Mitzie Hunter and Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities Personal Support Worker Joy London attending, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered by a mobile team from the Scarborough Health Network.

Lester Hinds contributed to this story.