Fear and religious beliefs are major drivers of vaccine hesitancy in the Caribbean

Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Senior Minister of Health for the Island of Nevis Administration, took his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Charlestown Health Centre, Nevis on February 24 .

Fear, conspiracy theories and religious beliefs are the major contributing factors to the level of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the Caribbean.

This is according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) representative to T&T officials Dr Erica Wheeler and the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA). ).

Speaking at the Tobago Health Update weekly press conference yesterday, TRHA’s Chief Executive Officer for Primary Care Services, Dr Roxanne Mitchell, explained.

“I could understand the fear. I could understand people not understanding the mechanisms by which vaccines were made. »

“We have conspiracy theories…There are people who think there are microchips and nano-bugs present in the vaccine…that vaccines have locators.”

Wheeler spoke about a survey of healthcare workers in the Caribbean on vaccine hesitancy.

“Some of the things that are a little different… that are circulating in the community are about people in religious communities not wanting to take the vaccine because they think it’s… the mark of the beast,” Wheeler said.

The PAHO official said people have a right to their beliefs. She said: ‘There is no evidence that the way vaccines are produced, there is nothing harmful in them.

She encouraged people to read more about vaccines on PAHO, WHO and government websites and discuss their findings.

She said people were taking the smallpox vaccine and “it existed before it was approved.”

Speaking as a Christian, she said God created excellent doctors and nurses.

She said another common view of vaccine hesitancy is that natural immunity can be achieved through exposure to the virus and the use of natural herbs.

“Our bodies are pristine from this virus, so we can’t rely on these things to protect us,” she said.

Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Célestine, who also spoke at the briefing, said Tobago would get the vaccines it needs for its population.

She urged residents to get vaccinated. She said that from today through Sunday, residents of Tobago East can get vaccinated in the parking lot of the Roxborough Administration Complex from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

TRHA officials said vaccinations were continuing at Canaan, Roxborough and Scarborough Health Centers and Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort Monday through Friday.

At the Mason Hall Community Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And the Les Coteaux Health Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The authority said appointments were needed for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, given at Roxborough and Scarborough health centers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The TRHA said that as of August 11, there were 553 active cases of COVID in Tobago, 52 of which were recorded in the previous 24 hours.

In terms of vaccinations, 15,510 people received their first dose, 10,681 received two doses, the TRHA said.
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Ruth R. Culp