Members of the public wait to get the COVID-19 vaccines at the Marabella Health Centre, yesterday.


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Atiba Scott had reservations about COVID-19 vaccines as numerous reports on the side effects are everywhere on the web.

But having that personal experience of losing a friend to the disease, the 39-year-old businessman was among the first to get vaccinated with China’s Sinopharm vaccine yesterday morning.

There was no rush for vaccines at the Ste Madeleine Health Centre where among the elderly were younger adults who suffer from chronic ailments. For them, it not only offered a feeling of protection against the disease that has increasingly traumatised families in the past month, but it gave a sense of feeling that they are contributing to the pandemic fight.

Scott said the spike in COVID-19 infection helped persuade him to take the vaccine, but more so, because death hit so close to home.

“I did not know if she wanted to take the vaccine, but it was such a sudden thing that happened. This person was my age, confirmed with me, and this was someone I knew personally. She was a healthy girl, and she passed away this week from COVID-19. When it hits home, it is always something that jolts you into action. I did not hesitate, and I sent my text,” Scott said.

While he was an advocate for vaccination, Scott hesitated after reading about the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine. With his scepticism, he did some reading, and by the time he was comfortable with the information, the State finished its distribution of AstraZeneca. Scott says he is happy to get Sinopharm.

The process for an appointment was quick as people sent WhatsApp messages to the various health centres on Thursday and an appointment for Friday within hours. Staff instructed people to sit under tents while nurses screened patients for information on their health status and history. Those who took the Sinopharm vaccines will return next month for the second shot. The waiting period is shorter than for those who took AstraZeneca.

However, there was an hour’s wait in Ste Madeleine but the staff did not explain the delay. The actual vaccination took a few seconds and people waited for 30 minutes so nurses could monitor their responses. In La Romaine, most of the appointments in the morning session ended by noon, but there was no rush for the vaccines there.

Despite the lack of tent space that left people waiting in the morning sun, Nadya Shah was happy that she and her mother got the vaccine.

Despite the fear of side effects, Shah said she wants the country to overcome the pandemic. She said the more people took the vaccine, the better the country’s chance of getting through the pandemic, especially with the alarming death rate.

“I am not against vaccination. I mean, it is science. At the end of the day, if you read about how it works and you do the research and understand, you make a choice and a decision as to whether or not you want to take it,” Shah said.

In Marabella, Candice Matura said everything went smoothly and that after taking the vaccine, she felt no different. Matura says that because of the high rate of COVID-19 infections, citizens should take any opportunity to get vaccinated.

Sekou Crichlow said that besides the soreness in his arm, he felt well. In a message to his compatriots, Crichlow said that any side effect of the vaccine pales in comparison to COVID-19 and its after-effects.

“If you have any doubts at all, I would say it is your best interest to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Crichlow said.