By Shermain Bique-Charles
They are frontline workers with top-priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine, but according to reports, some nurses in Antigua and Barbuda are fidgety about taking the jab.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association, Soria Dupie-Winston, told Observer that some of the hospital workers eligible for the vaccine are still having mixed feelings about it.
“To take the vaccine is the choice of every individual…some nurses have stated that they will take it, some won’t, and others have not yet decided,” she said.
Some of these frontline workers according to the ABNA president, are worried about the formulation window of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Some feel the vaccine was made too quickly and there hasn’t been enough testing. I believe when the vaccine arrives on the island nurses will decide whether or not,” she said.
However, for another set of frontline workers – fire officers, the matter has not yet been discussed at a professional level.
While admitting knowledge about administering the vaccine to frontline worker first, Fire Chief Elvis Weaver said that his officers are waiting out the matter.
“We have been having a lot of meetings since the Covid-19 pandemic, but we have not yet discussed the taking of the vaccine. We are just waiting to see what will happen,” he said.
He noted however that he has not heard any officer expressing concerns about the vaccine.
“I guess when the vaccine becomes available, they will decide if they are going to take it,” he added.
Our newsroom tried without success to contact the Police Chief, Atlee Rodney, to determine what percentage of his officers had agreed to take the vaccine or whether the matter was even discussed.
The government said it had already set money aside to source the coronavirus vaccine which they claimed will not be mandatory.
For months, the chief vaccine companies lined up “contract manufacturers” in the US and Europe to help them crank out doses and then undergo the final bottling steps. Moderna, for example, is working with Switzerland’s Lonza.
Beyond rich nations, the Serum Institute of India has a contract to manufacture a billion doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. It’s the world’s largest vaccine maker and is expected to be a key supplier for developing countries.
Where Antigua and Barbuda is concerned, three vaccines have been approved by the PAHO/WHO COVAX facility and the government says it will abide by these three for the time being.
Other vaccines are being examined for use, and the government has said that when they have been approved by PAHO/WHO, then these additional vaccines will be added to the sanctioned list.
Vaccines will likely not become available for widespread use here in Antigua and Barbuda until after March 2021.