Ready for COVID jab

Ready for COVID jab

Andrew, PJ, Bruce say they’ll take vaccine when it becomes available

BY CHARMAINE CLARKE
Managing editor
clarkec@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness, along with former prime ministers PJ Patterson and Bruce Golding say they are willing to roll up their sleeves and take the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

Holness said he would have no problem taking the vaccine, Patterson is willing to have his vaccination live-streamed to reassure the public that it is safe, and Golding said he would encourage all his family members to get the shot.

Many Jamaicans, like other people around the world, have expressed reservations about taking a freshly rolled out vaccine to fight a virus about which there is still much to learn. But, yesterday, all three statesmen made it clear they are not among the sceptics.

“As the approved vaccine becomes widely available the Government of Jamaica is committed to making it free to Jamaican citizens eligible to receive it. As prime minister, I would have no difficulty in taking the vaccine,” said Holness, who is 48 years old.

Patterson, who in April marked his 85th birthday, told the Jamaica Observer he was “ready and willing to go”.

Both he and Golding said they would consult their doctors ahead of being vaccinated, but added that they had no reservations about the procedure and anticipate that they would be given the go-ahead.

“I’m in the vulnerable group, so I can’t fool around. Once it’s approved by the appropriate authorities – both internationally and locally – I’ll take it,” said Golding, who last Saturday celebrated his 73rd birthday.

“There are different vaccines and therefore I would be interested in finding out which one would be most appropriate for someone of my age. And I do have some pre-existing conditions. So things like that I would have to take into account to see which of the vaccines would be most appropriate for me. [But] I’m taking it. I have no qualms about that,” said Golding, who served as Jamaica’s eighth prime minister from September 2007 to October 2011.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly stressed that the public should be reassured that approved vaccines will be safe. Some influential global figures have taken up the task, with reports out of the US that former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton are willing to be vaccinated on camera. There have also been unconfirmed reports that the United Kingdom’s 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip will be vaccinated at some point, which would then be publicised.

The UK begins administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine today after becoming the first country in the world to approve it last week, and on Thursday the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will decide whether to authorise its emergency use in the US. If the drug gets the nod, as expected, shipment will begin across the US on the same day.

The Moderna vaccine, which reportedly has a similar efficacy rate to Pfizer’s 95 per cent, is said to be next on the FDA’s list for vetting and approval.

Jamaica will receive doses of vaccine for 10 per cent of the country’s population, but it is unclear which of the drugs it will access through the Pan American Health Organization/WHO COVAX facility.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday told the Observer that he will brief Parliament on this and other issues at today’s meeting of the legislature. He will also provide an update on issues discussed during today’s first meeting of the freshly convened national COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinating Committee that has the weighty task of coming up with a plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it hits the country’s shores.

It is expected that medical personnel and other front-line staff will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Golding is fine with waiting his turn until these workers are protected.

“At the earliest opportunity, I’ll take it,” he told the Observer.

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