It is important for people 60 and over to take COVID vaccine

VACCINES are some of the safest and most effective medicines that save two to three millions lives annually and have been in use for more than 200 years. Vaccines prevent the spread of contagious, dangerous and deadly diseases like smallpox which was responsible for approximately 300 to 500 million deaths around the world. Resulting from the administration of a vaccine, smallpox was eradicated from the world in 1980 and measles and polio are near eradication.

Vaccines work with the body’s natural defences to safely develop immunity against diseases. When the body is exposed to germs for the first time, it produces antibodies or germ-fighting tools. However, this takes time, and people usually get sick before the antibodies become effective. Vaccines provide the body with a blueprint of how the germs will look; instructing the immune system to produce antibodies without causing illness. Once exposed to the germ, the antibodies will identify and destroy it thus protecting us from illness.

Older people with their weakened immune systems and underline illnesses are at a higher risk of death and disability from contagious diseases. COVID-19 is no exception, as of the 834 deaths to date in Jamaica, 622 or 75 per cent were in people 60 years and older. This clearly highlights the risk of poorer outcome from COVID-19 in people in this age cohort. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has therefore prioritised these people for receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been shown to reduce symptoms of the disease by 79 per cent and prevent severe illness and hospitalisation in 100 per cent of individuals. Fourteen days after receiving the recommended doses you would be protected from the devastating effect of the COVID-19; this vaccine will help older people stay healthy especially if they have co-morbid conditions. However, proper mask-wearing, hand washing/sanitising and physical distancing must be practised until at least 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated is easy and convenient; home visiting, drive through and wheel chair assistance are offered at selected sites. People 60 years and older are encouraged to make an appointment at www.moh.gov.jm, by calling 888- ONE-LOVE (663- 5683).

— Source: Ministry of Health and Wellness

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