Retired senior nurse ready for her shot

After vaccinating thousands of babies in her 36-year-long career as a public health nurse, 85-year-old Linnet Gardiner White will come to an awing full-circle moment when she receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on April 8.

Gardiner White, who was sceptical until Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton was publicly vaccinated, said she was left even more awestruck after learning that she is scheduled to receive the vaccine at the Comprehensive Health Centre on Slipe Pen Road in Kingston, where she worked for years before her retirement.

“I am happy. It is very important to be vaccinated. It’s a preventative means. I am accustomed to immunisation because I am a trained public health nurse. All of my life has to do with vaccination. It has been my life, because I’ve had to give a lot of vaccines,” Gardiner White told the Jamaica Observer.

“My daughter registered me to have the vaccine, so I am going to get it. It’s a part of life. I have been giving vaccines for so many years. A lot of babies came to the clinic and I gave them vaccines. That was a must. The first place I worked was the Olympic Gardens Health Centre and the last place I worked was the Comprehensive Health Centre on 55 Slipe Pen Road.”

Her daughter, Sheryl White Bromfield, said she registered her mother online Monday morning through a portal provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW).

“I had a great experience. I logged on at 10:01 am, followed the clear instructions as advertised on the MOHW’s social media platforms. I received my text prompt in one minute then clicked submit. I received my selected location and date and time. Then I excitedly called my 85-year-old mommy who was anxiously waiting on my call,” she said, noting that she was only asked to provide her mother’s correct date of birth.

Subsequently, she received a prompt that stated that her mother should take a Jamaica Government-issued identification.

“Nothing else is needed. She got April 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm at the Comprehensive Health Centre.”

“She is a retired senior public health nurse who had some concerns. But once she saw Minister Tufton take his jab, she knew that she had to do the right thing and get on board the vaccination train,” added White Bromfield.

Moreover, Gardiner White said Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton taking the vaccine publicly was a good move to influence those who are sceptical.

“When the health minister took it for people to see, many people believed in it. Those who are saying it’s dangerous are just ignorant. It’s ignorance. They don’t know about vaccines,” she related.

Gardiner White is listed under the senior citizen priority group which consists of people 75 years and older. The health ministry said effective Monday, March 22 until March 28, members of the group who wish to be vaccinated should make an appointment.

To do so, they are required to either register online, call the vaccination call centre, call or visit their parish health department or local health centre or consult a private doctor.

Gardiner White, who became a health-care worker at age 24, said she has vaccinated “uncountable” children over three decades.

“I was a young girl when I started… about 24 years old. I stayed in the profession until I retired at 60 years old,” she recalled.

“We had to immunise them against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and so forth. Each child gets a brand new, sharp needle, so they don’t even cry. They don’t even feel it. By the time they react, I was finished long time. I don’t know the exact amount I vaccinated but it’s a whole heap of children. When I was at the Olympic Gardens Health Centre, those people dress up to come to clinic. They dress up like they were going to party and the place pack up with them,” she said laughing.

“They (parents) loved to come to clinic with the children! Oh Lord! I vaccinated many, many children. I loved to work in Olympic Gardens, helping out the poor people.”

Never in a million years, she added, did she see herself ending up on the returning end of the needle.

“Now I will be getting it next month. My daughter will come for me. I want her to get it as well because it is very important. I even took her to get her shot when she was younger.”

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