By Kadeem Joseph
Antiguans and Barbudans and other residents who are hoping to access the lifesaving AstraZeneca vaccine are being assured that a Covid-19 test is not necessary before being inoculated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended that individuals wait until the course of the Covid-19 disease had passed before being vaccinated.
Some prospective vaccine recipients have expressed skepticism about taking the jab as they may be asymptomatic, however, Michael Joseph, the head of Antigua and Barbuda’s Pharmacy Council explained that taking the vaccine is safe for these individuals as well.
“The trial data and all the other regulatory [bodies] have said that it is fine to inoculate asymptomatic individuals,” he said, adding that the concern is for individuals who are showing symptoms of the disease.
He further explained that for those who are showing symptoms, it means that their immune system is already “reduced and as such is working overtime”, therefore the introduction of the vaccine is delayed until the prospective recipient gets well.
Joseph also addressed concerns about the administration of the vaccine to people who are over 60 years of age.
Several countries in Europe had refused to immunise their elderly population with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — due to a lack of trial support for the administration of the vaccine for that age group — but Joseph said studies have shown that the inoculation is also safe for people in this age group.
He explained that the initial human trials for the vaccine were conducted on volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55, but since then the WHO, along with AstraZeneca, conducted a trial for elderly age groups and found that the jab was safe for these individuals as well.
Residents are being urged to visit www.vaccineantiguabarbuda.com to register for the shot online or call the registration hotline numbers 788-8299, 736-8295, 736-8298, 736-8299 as pre-registration is vital for efficiency in the vaccination process.