CMO gets the first jab during vaccine roll out

Dozens of frontline health workers – led by Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas – yesterday became the first to receive a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot under the national vaccination programme. The historic moment took place at Mount St John’s Medical Centre, observed by media. More inside. (Photo by Observer’s Carlena Knight)
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By Carlena Knight

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It was a historic moment at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) yesterday morning as around 50 frontline workers, led by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), each received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The CMO Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas went on record as the first healthcare official to receive the jab in keeping with the government’s promise that frontline workers would be the first to be vaccinated out of the 5,000 doses gifted by the government of Dominica last week.

Despite making history, Dr Sealey-Thomas said that the focus should be on encouraging other residents to get vaccinated.

“It’s not about making history but serving as a beacon that will draw other persons to be vaccinated in Antigua and Barbuda. I have started a process that will allow other persons to come forward. It’s not historical for me but for the nation,” she said.

These sentiments were echoed by the Medical Director at MSJMC, Dr Albert Duncan, who while encouraging the general public to get vaccinated, also spoke specifically to those frontline workers who may be sceptical about taking the vaccine.

“This is too much of a critical issue not to take the vaccine. It’s here and the best vaccine you can take is the one that you can get. We should all be supportive and get vaccinated. We work very closely with Covid-19 patients.

“There is no social distance among us. We sit together, we conference together, we are always exposed, so there is no reason for us not to be vaccinated. We should put all the noise aside and get vaccinated,” he stated.

Just last week, the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses’ Association (ABNA) publicly demanded that the highest efficacy vaccine be made available for them. The Moderna and Pfizer shots both show a higher efficacy rate than AstraZeneca.

Those frontline workers who were vaccinated yesterday alongside the CMO, were first registered, evaluated and then vaccinated. Following the injection of the first dosage, they had to sit and wait for 15 minutes to ensure that they did not display any adverse side effects.

They will receive their second injection 12 weeks from today. Meanwhile, frontline workers on the sister isle will have to wait a bit longer before they can receive the vaccine. Chair of the Barbuda Council’s Health Committee, Nadia George, told Observer that they are still awaiting word from health authorities.

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