CMO weighs in on vaccination expiration concerns

Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas revealed that some of the AstraZeneca vaccines the country acquired earlier this year will expire next month.
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By Carlena Knight

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There have been mounting concerns that hesitancy to be inoculated could result in the expiration of thousands of vaccines before their usage.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas spoke to the issue exclusively with Observer media.

“The vaccines we have do have an expiry date — the end of June — and of course if persons do not take the vaccines, we may have some of them on our hands that may expire. Certainly, we would not want them to go to waste, there are countries right here in our region who would probably benefit from those vaccines because their citizens want the vaccines,” Dr Sealey-Thomas said.

Despite this, the CMO revealed there are contingencies that government can put in place to deal with the vaccines before they expire.

“We do have a history of vaccine sharing because we have been doing immunisations and vaccines for many, many years. So, we are accustomed that if in one country the vaccines are expiring, to share with another country, and if we don’t have and another country does, then they will share with us. The same will happen now. We will seek to share our vaccines that are due to expire with a country that needs it,” she explained.

Unlike Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the top health official still believes that public education is the avenue that is needed to combat the issue of vaccine hesitancy in the country.

“By advising persons of the benefits of vaccines; letting persons know that vaccines are safe; letting persons know that vaccines save lives; letting persons know the risks, whether dying or getting severe effects of Covid-19 is far, far worse than the risk of you getting any of the serious adverse effects of the vaccine. So, when you weigh the risks and the benefits versus what can happen to you with Covid-19 if you were to contract the disease, vaccination trumps,” she added.

The most recent report from the Ministry of Health indicated that vaccination statistics up to May 11th showed that 31,517 residents have received the first dose of the vaccine, while 1,134 have taken the second dose.

Subsequent to administering the second dose to healthcare workers, members of the Cabinet received their second dose on Thursday at the Office of the Prime Minister on Queen Elizabeth Highway.

Retired parliamentarians will receive their second dose at Parliament Building on May 15.

A subsequent announcement will be made for the second dose schedule for uniformed bodies and targeted groups.

The general public is asked to pay attention to the dates given on their vaccination cards for them to return for their second dose. They are also invited to return to the centres where they received the first dose.

Meanwhile, those persons who received the first dose at the Sir Novelle Richards Academy, are informed that they can receive their second dose at the Precision Centre in Paynters.

The other vaccination sites are the Multipurpose Cultural and Exhibition Centre, the Glanvilles Polyclinic, and the Villa Polyclinic.

The first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is still being administered at all the vaccination centres. 

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