Vincentians line up for Sputnik V vaccine
A supply of Sputnik V vaccines to fully inoculate 700 Vincentians were donated to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) last weekend.
Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) told SEARCHLIGHT that the vaccines were donated on Saturday by “a friend of SVG”.
Keizer-Beache said that the vaccines will be used generally to vaccinate persons who had registered some months ago and indicated an interest in getting the Russian developed vaccine.
“We expect the first shipment from COVAX of the AstraZeneca vaccine in early April, the first half of April…and whether or not we get more Sputnik, that is still under discussion,” she said.
Prior to last weekend’s donation, SVG’s vaccination programme offered only one type of the COVID19 vaccine: the Covishield (Indian) AstraZeneca vaccine.
More than 10,000 people locally have received at least the first dose of a COVID19 vaccine since vaccinations began in mid-February – approximately one tenth of the total population.
“It’s going at a steady pace. We are averaging about 250 vaccines a day. I think the response to the Sputnik was encouraging but as I said, those were persons who were sitting, waiting there for months now so they were already committed to receiving the Sputnik,” Keizer-Beache explained.
She added: “we are targeting more specific groups. Besides the general campaign, we are targeting specific groups and individuals now, and we are seeing an increase in the uptick among healthcare providers and so, we continue to work”.
A 27-year-old woman, who received her first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine over the weekend, told SEARCHLIGHT that in February, she registered to be vaccinated soon after the registration exercise began.
“I, like everyone else want the pandemic to not be prolonged any further so I’m doing my part as a global citizen,” the woman said.
“I did comparative reading on both AstraZeneca and Sputnik and saw that at the time, Sputnik had a higher rate of efficacy, using a shorter time frame of three weeks between doses.”
She said she experienced mild headaches within the first 24 hours of being vaccinated, which she treated with paracetamol as recommended by healthcare providers, and that there was dull pain at the vaccination site.
Another individual who received the first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine on Sunday said she had no adverse side effects and that she trusts the science.
She added that she had intended to go this week to take the AstraZeneca vaccine but was called in for the Sputnik V jab before she could do so.
“The best vaccine for anybody is the vaccine that is available…I’m sure everybody knows that around the world…all of the vaccines are proving to be very effective in terms of decreasing the risk of developing serious or moderate COVID,” Keizer-Beache said.
The CMO also referred to evidence pertaining to the vaccine decreasing the transmission of the virus, as well as indications that at least one third of the persons infected with COVID may have some sort of prolonged negative effect.
She added that there is a need for St Vincent and the Grenadines to move forward; getting ahead of a third wave of the virus, as is being observed in the United States at present.
“People are saying we are not giving information, we’re not saying why they should take the vaccine – they should take the vaccine for their health and wellbeing; individual health and wellbeing,” Keizer-Beache said.
To date, she said no serious adverse reactions have been recorded and there have been no deaths related to taking a vaccine in SVG.
[Updated at 7:50 am on Friday, April 2, to correct the attribution of a comment to a 27-year-old woman interviewed by Searchlight. The comment was erroneously attributed to the CMO in an earlier version.]