Mon | Jun 14, 2021

Race against time: SAJ boosts vaccination awareness among members

Published:Tuesday | May 4, 2021 | 12:05 AM
We got the vaccine! Members of staff of Seaboard Marine proudly pose after getting their first vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.
We got the vaccine! Members of staff of Seaboard Marine proudly pose after getting their first vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Many Jamaicans remain undecided about getting inoculated despite over 100,000 people receiving the first dose of coronavirus vaccine over the past month.

To address the issues of vaccine hesitancy and respond to questions surrounding the coronavirus and vaccination, the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) hosted a webinar on Wednesday, April 21, to provide information to its members.

Led by Dr Ramon Arscott, who studied and researched immunology while at the University of Oxford, the hour-long session explored the human body’s response to the coronavirus and the benefits and possible risks or complications associated with vaccines.

Dr Arscott said that despite comparisons about vaccines’ efficacy, “all prevent disease, ICU admissions and death,” even if one becomes infected after vaccination.

The plastic and reconstructive surgeon noted that the virus has changed since first detected and that there are many mutations of it, but vaccination remains key.

“Corona has changed millions of times because millions of people have been infected,” he said, adding that vaccines are still effective even if their efficacy is slightly lowered.

Dr Arscott also sought to address concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine being used in Jamaica.

He explained that the risk of blood clots is minimal and found among all major approved coronavirus vaccines. The risk is also common among those who take oral contraception or even sit on long flights. Further, he said medical practitioners can test for and treat it with increasing knowledge of the risk.

For those who are cautious about other side effects, he said common physical responses, such as a fever, are signs the vaccine is working.

“So far, COVID hasn’t changed beyond what the vaccine is protecting you against, but no one can say yay or nay [on] whether we’ll definitively need another shot,” he shared in response to a query about booster shots.

Dr Arscott also advised those who were previously infected to still get the vaccine once they recover.

He concluded that people will regain some sense of normality, but “it’s a race against time” to curtail the virus now before it changes significantly.

More than 45,000 Jamaicans have been infected by COVID-19, with over 700 fatalities reported.