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Trini doctor Mateus Fernandez receives the Pfizer vaccine.

A Trinidadian doctor who was among the historic first round of healthcare workers to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is advising citizens to put their fears aside and get vaccinated when it becomes available.

Mateus Fernandez, 28, an Internal Medicine Resident attached to the New York City hospital network, has witnessed the devastation of COVID-19 over the last seven months first hand. On Thursday, he was among those first in line to receive the Pfizer vaccine which became available to front line workers days ago in the US.

Fernandez said while there remains a level of mistrust and hesitancy when it comes to the vaccine, there was no cause for concern.

“I think in Trinidad, the population is very wary about taking vaccines. A lot of that has to do with a loss of trust with health care system, so what we should do as health care professionals is set the example and show people of Trinidad that we trust the vaccine and taking it ourselves which has worked pretty well for us in the US.”

During a zoom interview with Guardian Media, Fernandez explained that apart from the customary pain associated with being vaccinated he had not experienced any adverse side effects.

“I feel a sense of relief that I have some form of protection, some form of antibody forming inside me as we speak. Honestly, that needle that we use to give a vaccine is literally the same needle, the size of it, the same small one we’d use on newborn babies so it’s really not like a big scary needle.”

Government continues to work with the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization to determine which vaccine will be most effective.

However, arrangements have been made to receive them when they become available. An order for roughly 400,000 vaccines has been placed.

Meanwhile, the young doctor explained that he will be stationed at the Hospital’s ICU ward on Christmas Day and that while his heart remained heavy from being away from his family over the holidays, he has comfort knowing that he is able to attend to patients with the added safety of being vaccinated.

“There are so many studies on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, I definitely feel it’s the responsible thing to do especially being exposed to so many sick patients.”