By Shermain Bique-Charles
“Bring the vaccine, my arm is ready,” said the Director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) Philmore Mullin, another official who is encouraging residents to take the shot.
Some residents have openly voiced their concerns about Covid-19 vaccines, particularly the AstraZeneca, one option currently available to small island developing states.
Although the AstraZeneca is currently easier and cheaper to source than some shots, studies show it has a lower efficacy rate than its Pfizer and Moderna counterparts.
Nevertheless, Mullin said in order to prevent a national crisis where Covid-19 is concerned, the only option for residents, especially the vulnerable, is to willingly take the jab.
“We know from science that when we take vaccines, we are protected from getting infections and possibly dying from them.
“We also know if you don’t take the vaccine you may contract an infection and nothing may happen to you, or you will die. It is a simple choice,” he said.
Mullin said it is the responsibility of every citizen to protect themselves and others.
“None of us should take any chance whatsoever of contracting this disease. If you see your colleague slacking, then you should call them out. Covid-19 is not a joke,” he continued.
The NODS director confirmed that, based on investigations, there is a minority of people in Antigua and Barbuda who remain negligent in following the health protocols in place.
“Those who are not adhering are a very small number of people. For the most part, what we are seeing is that there [is] a significant number of persons who are taking every step because they are scared of the disease,” he confirmed.
The government started rolling out its national immunisation programme earlier this month after a gift of 5,000 AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country from Dominica.
The first dose has already been administered to frontline workers — including doctors and nurses — as well as government officials.
Another 40,000 vaccines are expected on island this week – a gift from India – and Prime Minister Gaston Browne said teachers, port workers and media personnel are among those next in line to be offered them.