COVID-19 update and press conference- February 7, 2021. (PMO)

The COVID-19 vaccine is “safe and suitable for everyone”.  

Public Health Specialist and Co-Coordinator of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand gave this assurance during a COVID-19 update press conference this evening.

Responding to the question of whether the COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for black and brown people, Dr. Ferdinand responded: “When we look at the vaccine itself, where phase trials are done, they were done in Brazil, and they are not white. You know, it’s done in South Africa, and all of them are not white, so it has been tested in many different ethnic people.  So, as far as I’m concerned, it is safe for anyone.”

Dr. Ferdinand noted that the use of the vaccine has been endorsed by the Barbados Association of Medical Practioners (BAMP) and advised persons who have any queries regarding taking the vaccine that they should consult their doctor for advice.

Noting that Barbados would be receiving 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, she said even though it is suitable for all, there were “people who are allergic to its components, or people who have severe allergies” and would not be given the vaccine.

She pointed out, as guided by the manufacturer of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it would not be administered to persons under 18.

She stressed that persons over the age of 65 would be seriously targeted for administration of the vaccine. 

“It’s been shown that the majority of people who get the disease and progress then to have serious disease are those not only with chronic diseases, but the elderly. So, we are going to be trying to vaccinate as many of the elderly as possible,” Dr. Ferdinand said.

The Co-Coordinator of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign shared that in addition to discussions about the vaccine during the COVID-19 update press conferences, part of the campaign to encourage ‘herd immunity’ in Barbados would involve social media promotions, intensifying talks with the public, and distributing frequently asked questions (FAQs), not only to the public, but also to medical practitioners. 

“I’m hoping that the media and other media avenues [used] will be seen by every social class and age group, because we don’t just want the elderly; we want everyone to know, and we want the younger people to encourage the older people to come and get their vaccine,” she stated.

Head of the COVID-19 Communications Unit, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, added that the unit would be undertaking its own vaccine campaign utilising all media, including WhatsApp, which would include FAQs and e-brochures for both the general public and health professionals.

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