COVID vaccine safe and effective, doctor assures Jamaicans

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Acting medical officer of health at the Manchester Health Department Dr Shonette Blair-Walters has added her voice to prominent Jamaicans encouraging their compatriots to take the COVID-19 vaccine, even as Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell questioned the effectiveness of the booster.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness stands behind the safety of the vaccines that we have procured,” Dr Blair-Walters declared at the monthly meeting of the Manchester Municipal Corporation.

She was responding to reports surfacing yesterday that Denmark, Norway, and Iceland had suspended the use of the vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford over reports of severe blood clots in people who have received the AstraZeneca jab.

“We can strongly encourage, especially those who have comorbid conditions or those who are over the age of 60, to avail themselves and take the vaccine. The Ministry of Health and Wellness fully supports the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccine,” she said.

Up to press time yesterday, Manchester had 268 active cases of COVID-19 with nine patients in hospital.

The COVID wards at both Mandeville Regional and Percy Junor hospitals are at capacity.

Noting that people are concerned about the vaccine, Mitchell said: “.. I don’t think people are so much against taking the vaccine; I think they are concerned about the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

Pointing to research on the length of time between the administration of the first and second doses of the vaccine, Dr Blair-Walters said: “In Jamaica you will receive the second shot [of the vaccine] 10 weeks later. Subsequent studies for the vaccines we are using show that the [longer] the time between the two [doses] are, the better the effectiveness of the actual vaccine we are using.”

Residents, particularly the elderly, are being encouraged to contact their nearest health centre to register for an appointment to receive the vaccine.

Checks made by the Jamaica Observer with Mandeville Comprehensive Health Clinic yesterday revealed that registration requires people to give their names, date of birth and contact information.

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