94-y-o urges J’cans to take COVID-19 vaccine

March 24, 2021
Powell’s nephew, Emry Patrick, says he is still not sure if he will be taking the jab.
Powell’s nephew, Emry Patrick, says he is still not sure if he will be taking the jab.
Clembert Powell encourages Jamaicans to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Clembert Powell encourages Jamaicans to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

After receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 94-year-old Clembert Powell, a retired commissioner of St John Ambulance Jamaica, seemed to get a boost of energy as he smiled and stepped powerfully towards his vehicle.

Powell, who received his jab at the Good Samaritan Inn in Kingston, cracked a few jokes while being interviewed. However, he said COVID-19 is no laughing matter and encouraged other Jamaicans to get vaccinated.

"I think taking the vaccine is necessary, especially as a preventative measure against the virus. This is the worst disease I have ever experienced in all of my years on Earth. Polio was also very dangerous and it was something that you could not see and run away from. You just have to try and avoid it. But COVID is very terrible," he said.

Powell was one of dozens of senior citizens who got vaccinated yesterday. He praised the staff for their professionalism and stated that the process was comfortable and smooth.

"Take the vaccine because it is better to take it than not and things get worse. The vaccine builds up the immune system against further attacks from the virus and the sooner we have it under control is the sooner our lives can be normalised again," he said. Powell, who also serves as a justice of the peace, said he has been doing everything in his power to guard against the deadly virus that has claimed nearly 600 lives locally.

"I obey everything that the PM says and just follow the protocols. I keep my distance and I always wear my goggles (mask). Before anyone comes to me to sign any documents, I sanitise them myself then I sanitise myself also. So this way both of us are safe. We just have to play our part," he said.

But Powell's nephew, Emry Patrick, 68, isn't sure he will be joining the vaccination line. He said that while he supports his uncle's decision and even drove him to the centre yesterday, he still has reservations about the vaccine.

"I still don't know enough about it and I am not sure if I will be getting the same one as what the prime minister take. I am going to watch and see the outcome of this first. My uncle may take it and be okay but his reaction may be different from mine. I have been living a good life for 68 years and I am not ready to die as yet," Patrick said.

St John Ambulance Jamaica provides knowledge and training in first aid. Powell first went there, somewhat reluctantly, in 1955.

"I hated to see blood and you just couldn't get me to pass a hospital or be anywhere where the sightings of blood may be. I met somebody who was working with St John and said it would be a good job for me. So she and another co-worker literally held my hand and dragged me to Duke Street and paid for the first aid classes for me," he laughed, adding that it's been a privilege to serve Jamaica. "The only place I have never given first aid was underwater," he said.

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