Former health ministers willing to take COVID vaccine

December 04, 2020
John Junor
John Junor
Dr. Fenton Ferguson
Dr. Fenton Ferguson

Two former health ministers say they would be willing to get their COVID-19 vaccines publicly, in an effort to influence more Jamaicans to be more accepting of it, which could in turn assist the Government in its fight against the virus.

Dr Fenton Ferguson, who served as health minister from 2012 to 2015, told THE WEEKEND STAR that he would 'be cautious, but not unwilling to take the vaccine".

"COVID is a new virus. From the literature, it is almost in a constant state of mutation," he said. "We are in unchartered waters. The discussion out there among scientists is that there is about a 10 to 15 per cent chance of adverse reaction to the vaccine, which in their estimation, would not be seen as high. It is to that extent that there are those of us who continue to watch the situation as it unfolds."

Promote public confidence

Former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton volunteered to get their COVID-19 vaccines on camera, in a bid to promote public confidence in the vaccine's safety once the US Food and Drug Administration authorises one. The United Kingdom is the first western nation to authorise a COVID-19 vaccine. The first doses are to be rolled out across the country next week. Ferguson said anyone who would be taking the vaccine must be clear about the science.

"I think everyone is saying they (vaccines) are above 90 per cent in safety and efficacy, which are the two critical areas in terms of how effective the vaccine would be," he said. "I've supported vaccines as minister and defended the use of vaccines, so it's not that I am one of those who are against vaccines. I am cautious that we are in uncharted waters and I am gradually being convinced by the information coming from the scientific sources."

John Junor, health minister from 1998 to 2006, says he would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine publicly.

"I would, once I am convinced about the efficacy of a drug that could be a vaccine. The efficacy issue sand safety issues are always paramount. I would expect that the WHO (World Health Organization) and our own ministry would've approved a vaccine for use in Jamaica. I would have no difficulty," he told THE WEEKEND STAR. "Vaccinations have proven to be a boon to the fight of mankind against disease. What would we have done without it in relation to polio, mumps, rubella and all these other conditions that plagued the world in the earlier part of the last century?"

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