Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy leader Dr Faith BYisrael has sought to allay the fears of the public when it comes to taking the covid19 vaccine.
During a PDP programme on Wednesday, BYisrael said those sceptical about the vaccine should contact their medical practitioner to discuss their concerns.
She noted that despite generations of people taking their babies to be vaccinated against diseases like polio, measles and mumps, covid19 vaccine hesitancy remains an issue.
“People have genuine, real fears, and the sooner we recognise that people have real questions and we can answer those questions, the sooner we can get people to the point of being more comfortable,” she said.
BYisrael said she received her first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Roxborough Health Centre earlier this month,.
“I am fine. The day right after was not so great, and I am being honest about it – but that is how I actually know that the vaccine is working, because my body responded as if I had actually gotten sick.”
BYisrael said many people are concerned with how fast a vaccine was made specific to covid19, but she attributed this to advanced technology.
“The way we did things ten years ago versus 50 years ago, versus 100 years ago – we have benefited because of the advancements in technology. We have (advanced) in every single field, and the same thing has happened for vaccines.”
She said covid19 is a member of the corona viruses, and the world has had corona viruses for many years.
“We all remember SARS. There was a point when we started saying any plane come in with people from China, public health would stop them – SARS is an example of a corona virus. So we’ve had corona viruses out there for a while and because they’ve been out there, researchers have actually been doing a lot of work on trying to figure out what the corona virus is and trying to figure out how to create a vaccine for the virus.
"So because of the advancement in technology, we’ve been able to identify the genetic make up of this specific corona virus and because we’ve been able to determine the genetic makeup, we are able to then use that information to make the vaccine.”
Making specific reference to the AstraZeneca vaccine, she said to be classified as fully vaccinated, you must take the two doses and wait two weeks for maximum efficacy – 82 per cent.
She noted that the vaccine does not offer full immunity
“When you get the two doses or when you are classified as fully vaccinated, you can still contract covid19. What the vaccine does is that it prevents you from getting severe illness, so it prevents you from getting very sick and it prevents you from dying. The data that is coming out thus far is that people who are classified as fully vaccinated, those people are seeing that level of protection where they may still get covid19 but they’re not even showing symptoms...But the vaccine is helping their body to fight against the covid19 so that it does not ravish your body the way it would ravish your body if you were not vaccinated.”
She added: “Right now, most of the vaccines work with two shots, the only one that only requires one shot is the Johnson and Johnson and we really need to wait a little bit more to see what will happen a year down the road, two years down the road to see if the level of immunity would stay as high as it is now for us to determine whether we need a booster or not.”
She said even after getting the vaccine, people must continue following the covid19 protocols and guidelines.
For the month of May, the island has recorded four deaths due to the pandemic and 100 active covid19 cases.
“For the most of 2020, the only people who we tested for covid19 were people with some kind of symptoms. So it was possible that there were people without symptoms, who are asymptomatic, who were around infecting other people. And of course, as much as we don’t want to admit it, that free-up time that we had for Easter – that free-up time caused several things to happen.
"It caused a lot of people to be in places together congregating and it caused the people who were together congregating – they were not wearing masks, they were not doing what they should have done. So now that we’re seeing the two weeks after Easter results, it's basically what you are seeing now. It is just coincidental that it's around the same time that we started vaccinating.”