Consultant Epidemiologist, Professor Peter Figueroa, is assuring Jamaicans that all World Health Organization (WHO) authorised in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, have, largely, proven to be safe and effective in preventing persons contracting the disease from becoming seriously ill or dying.
In a bid to allay concerns and fears resonating in several quarters, the noted academic, who is Professor of Public Health, Epidemiology and HIV/AIDS at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St. Andrew, said that where two doses of the vaccine are administered, “within two weeks after the second dose, it will almost always protect you from serious disease”.
“It may not prevent you from becoming infected… with the virus. But your body resists getting very ill… and most persons’ [systems] will resist getting any symptoms whatsoever. The load of the virus in your system is much lower than if you were not vaccinated, so you’re less likely to pass the virus onto someone else,” Professor Figueroa pointed out.
He cautioned, however, that there is “still a little risk” that the virus could be transmitted to another person, hence the need for individuals to maintain strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols and safeguards, such as wearing a mask while in public places.
Professor Figueroa was speaking during a digital Vaccine Town Hall Forum, hosted by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (August 12).
Professor Figueroa, who is a member of the WHO’s Working Group on COVID-19 Vaccines, cited the United Kingdom as an example where the COVID-19 vaccine has been effective, noting that over 70 per cent of that nation’s population has been inoculated.
“Although the Delta variant is causing an increase in the number of infections, the number of deaths has not increased in the way that it was with the initial surges that they had,” Professor Figueroa pointed out.
He also emphasised the importance of persons understanding the reactions they experience after being vaccinated.
“If within the first few days, their arm hurts [in and around the area of the injection] or they get fever and/or headache, or they feel very tired and weak, that is a sign that the body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine, and [is] being stimulated. So the immune system [will], four weeks after the first dose [and] two weeks after the second dose, [be] in a position to protect the person from [adverse effects of] the virus,” Professor Figueroa added.
He also indicated that there is a “very small risk” of fatalities resulting from the vaccine’s administration.
Professor Figueroa pointed out that approximately 3-5 persons of every one million who are vaccinated, may get severe blood clots.
“But not everybody who gets that very severe blood clot actually dies; it may be [about] one out of three persons who get that blood [who dies]. So the risk is very low,” he added.