A Nevispages weekly feature by Curtis Morton Sr
The way I see it, to take the vaccine or not take the vaccine?—that is the million-dollar question.
There has been much discussion throughout the federation lately, all centred on the hot topic of whether or not to take the covid -19 vaccine.
Well, on Wednesday of last week, I went to my favourite Health Center on the island, the Butler’s Health Center and yes I took the vaccine! As the Nurse rolled up my shirt sleeve and prepared to use the needle, I subconsciously tensed up and waited for the pain.
‘It’s done,’ she said. “Done?’ I queried in amazement. Yes, it was all over in a few seconds.
A little later that same evening, I attended a meeting in Charlestown and I was asked if I was going to take the vaccine. I indicated that I had already taken it. One young lady laughed at me. She told me that my scrotum was going to swell and that ‘things that are supposed to go up, won’t go up anymore.’
Well I newa!
Days later, I am still here and I am pretty okay, thank God!
It has been reported that as of March 3rd, 425 persons on Nevis have received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Unofficial reports are also indicating that quite a number of expatriates have taken the opportunity to get the vaccine.
Now, there is a lot of talk going around the negative effects of the vaccine and some horror stories have been told about people whose faces have been disfigured and people who have suffered strokes and so on. Mind you, there is no substantial evidence to support the stories.
The young lady also said that I was ‘following people’, in taking the vaccine. My quick retort was: ‘You are following people in not taking the vaccine!’
Now, I know that I made a conscientious and deliberate decision to take the vaccine. I firstly did my research and I am fully aware that due to the fact that we do not live in a perfect world, that IF THINGS CAN GO WRONG—THINGS WILL GO WRONG. So, my decision to take the vaccine was deliberate and very well thought out.
Let me share some of the facts, I gathered from my good friend GOOGLE:
“The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has issued interim recommendations for use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (AZD1222).
This article provides a summary of the interim recommendations; you may access the guidance document here.
Who should be vaccinated first?
While vaccine supplies are limited, it is recommended that priority be given to health workers at high risk of exposure and older people, including those aged 65 or older.
Countries can refer to the WHO Prioritization Roadmap and the WHO Values Framework as guidance for their prioritization of target groups.
Who else can take the vaccine?
Vaccination is recommended for persons with comorbidities that have been identified as increasing the risk of severe COVID-19, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes.
Although further studies are required for persons living with HIV or auto-immune conditions or who are immunocompromised, people in this category who are part of a group recommended for vaccination may be vaccinated after receiving information and counselling.
Vaccination can be offered to people who have had COVID-19 in the past. But individuals may wish to defer their own COVID-19 vaccination for up to six months from the time of SARS-CoV-2 infection, to allow others who may need the vaccine more urgently to go first.
Vaccination can be offered to breastfeeding women if they are part of a group prioritized for vaccination. WHO does not recommend discontinuation of breastfeeding after vaccination.
Should pregnant women be vaccinated?
While pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data are available to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy.
Pregnant women may receive the vaccine if the benefit of vaccinating a pregnant woman outweighs the potential vaccine risks.
For this reason, pregnant women at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (e.g. health workers) or who have comorbidities which add to their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider.
Who is the vaccine not recommended for?
People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it.
The vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age pending the results of further studies.
What’s the recommended dosage?
The recommended dosage is two doses given intramuscularly (0.5ml each) with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks.
Additional research is needed to understand longer-term potential protection after a single dose.
Is it safe?
While this vaccine has yet to be recommended for an Emergency Use Listing by WHO, it has undergone review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and consequently meets WHO’s criteria for SAGE consideration.
The EMA has thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine and has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorization for people aged 18 and above.
The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, a group of experts that provides independent and authoritative guidance to the WHO on the topic of safe vaccine use, receives and assesses reports of suspected safety events of potentially international impact.
How efficacious is the vaccine?
The AZD1222 vaccine against COVID-19 has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Longer dose intervals within the 8 to 12 weeks range are associated with greater vaccine efficacy.
Does it work against new variants?
SAGE has reviewed all available data on the performance of the vaccine in the settings of variants of concern. SAGE currently recommends the use of AZD1222 vaccine according to the WHO Prioritization Roadmap, even if virus variants are present in a country. Countries should assess the risks and benefits taking into consideration their epidemiological situation.
Preliminary findings highlight the urgent need for a coordinated approach for surveillance and evaluation of variants and their potential impact on vaccine effectiveness. As new data become available, WHO will update recommendations accordingly.
Does it prevent infection and transmission?
No substantive data are available related to impact of AZD1222 on transmission or viral shedding.
In the meantime, we must maintain and strengthen public health measures that work: masking, physical distancing, handwashing, respiratory and cough hygiene, avoiding crowds, and ensuring good ventilation.”
Now, I am confident in the fact that whatever transpires, we still have to place our ultimate trust in the God who created us and not in a vaccine. However, our God tells us to be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ God expects us to do the sensible thing.
Do you remember this story:
“A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”
The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”
To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”
To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?””
So God may one day tell somebody: ‘I sent you a vaccine!”
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?