University students tell why they took COVID-19 vaccine

A group of tertiary students who received the COVID-19 vaccine in the recent vaccination blitz are encouraging other young people to take the jab.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, on his Instagram account, said he was overwhelmed after seeing the number of youngsters who were inoculated at the National Arena, which was one of the vaccination blitz sites in Kingston.

The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Guild President-elect Danielle Mullings said: “I decided to take it after looking at research which indicated that it reduces COVID-19 transmissibility. It also reduces the likelihood of you contracting the virus and reduces the symptoms,” she said. “It was done from a health perspective and I had encouragement from my grandmother and my parents who took it and were okay.”

The 21-year-old, who took the jab at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre, explained that it was a smooth process, and she was pleased that health-care workers ensured public sensitisation before administering the vaccine.

Although there is still some scepticism about taking the jab, Mullings encouraged youngsters to take the vaccine in an effort for the country to return to normality.

“It is normal for people to be sceptical. But what really moved me to take the vaccine was comparing the side effects of the vaccine to the side effects of COVID-19. Assess your situation and see what is best for you and check with your doctor. More young people should step up, especially if they live with older relatives, as it is a chance to get back to normal,” she said.

Another UWI student, 21-year-old Jhe’Vont Webster who studies integrated marketing communication, was among the dozens of young people who took the jab.

He said that he experienced a slight headache, loss of appetite and a fever/chills, but said overall he was fine.

“The vaccine is our only way back to normalcy; we tried waiting COVID-19 out and after a year we’re worst off. In order for things to get back to normal, we need people to stop shying away and take the vaccine, just as how we took it when we were babies,” said Webster, who is also the Guild cultural and entertainment affairs chairperson-elect.

Yet another UWI student, 20-year-old Britney Gray, who studies information technology added: “I am feeling good! I must admit a couple hours after taking the vaccine I had a few side effects but with two Panadols, the pain went away. If you take the vaccine, we have an opportunity to get back to normal. Protect yourselves, protect everyone else and let’s work towards going back ‘outside’.”

In a media briefing recently, director of Family Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr Melody Ennis explained that the side effects following vaccination that are common in more than one in 10 people include tenderness, fever/chills and headache.

Meanwhile, Ajia Hartley, who studies hospitality and tourism management at University of Technology, said she was eager to have life returned to normality, especially since the tourism sector was badly affected.

“…I would want [tourism] to bounce back as fast as possible, and the only way I see that happening is if we follow through with the protocols that the Government has in place. We have to do something to combat it and the vaccine is the first step,” said the 20-year-old who got inoculated at Port Antonio High School in Portland.

“Getting COVID-19 would be the worst thing right now, especially with the conditions in the hospital – we don’t have enough ventilators nor enough beds. I would suggest that the best way to avoid those issues is by doing what is necessary to protect your life,” Hartley told the Jamaica Observer.

Ramon Gordon, a 21-year old journalism student at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) explained that he was a bit apprehensive at first, but gained encouragement from some of his friends in the medical field to take the vaccine.

“I was a bit apprehensive at first, due to the anti-vax viral propaganda. I had COVID-19 before and my friends, who are doctors, convinced me that it would be in my best interest to get the jab and protect myself and my family, so it was a no-brainer,” he said. He said that he took the vaccine at Manchester High School in Mandeville.

“You can remain sceptical if you choose to, but the time you spend waiting to see the ‘so-called’ long-term effects, you can catch COVID-19 and drop dead. It is in your best interest to go and get vaccinated. Even though it does not protect you 100 per cent from contracting the disease, it reduces the chance of you going to the hospital and being on a ventilator,” said Gordon.

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