Westmoreland reporting a strong take-up of vaccine: Medical Officer of Health for Westmoreland, Dr. Marcia Graham, says that the take-up of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in the parish has exceeded expectations.
She says people have been turning out at the Westmoreland Health Department and the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital, where the vaccine is being administered, to get their injections.
The exercise started on Wednesday, March 10 and up to Thursday, March 11 a total of 170 persons had been vaccinated.
Dr. Graham says that the injections are being administered to healthcare workers and persons with comorbidities.
“We did 76 vaccines (at the Westmoreland Health Department). We aimed for 30 persons but we ended up doing 76. Over at the hospital, we were aiming for 60 and they did 94, so we exceeded our expectations,” Dr. Graham informs.
“It’s because persons are demanding the service, so we really had a good turn-out and a good response. We are really pleased and we thank the citizens for embracing this new weapon that we have against COVID-19,” she adds.
Among the health care professionals, who are being vaccinated are public and private doctors, nurses, community health aides, emergency medical services personnel, and others.
“So, we are doing a mixture of frontline workers from the public health care system as well as those who are allied as private, and also administering to those in the vulnerable population,” Dr. Graham says.
She says the vaccination of the public health staff is being done in batches so that there is no disruption in service delivery at the facilities.
In outlining the process at the Westmoreland Health Department, Dr. Graham explains that on entering the vaccination area persons get their temperature checked, hands sanitised and are then seated.
“The seats are numbered in two sets of five (one set red, one set blue), because that is their seat designation for the rest of their time with us. They sit in that seat until they go to the verification desk where we verify their information. They then retake their seat and are given a health (talk),” she points out.
“The fact that they are here means that they are convinced of the value of the vaccine, but just in case they have any lingering questions, any last minute clarifications, the team is here to answer those questions,” she adds.
The vaccine is then administered by public health nursesat two screened areas, after which the patient is re-seated for observation for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Afterwards, the patient’s vitals arechecked to ensure that there are no adverse effectsand he/she is given an appointment date for follow-up.
Dr. Graham says that the vaccine area is an emergency room, which contains a stretcher and emergency medication. The Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital is also on standby and has made an ambulance available in case there are any severe reactions to the vaccine.
Patients were also given emergency contacts that they can call if they have any adverse effects at home.
“We also ask them to give us feedback on the experience, so we have a suggestion box where they fill out a form and drop them in there. For every one in 10 persons, we do a time and motion study, so as they go through the different stations, they will document the time so that we have an idea how we are doing with moving them through the system and to see if we can improve that (system) as we go along,” Dr. Graham tells JIS News.
She says that the feedback so far from persons, who have received the vaccine has been positive, with patients indicating that the injection is quick and painless.
“They were surprised because they were a bit anxious as they thought it was something that was painful. Our reviews on (March 10) were good. Nobody said that they were dissatisfied, nobody said that they were neutral; all the responses were split between satisfied and very satisfied,” she notes.
Meanwhile, former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central, Dr. Karl Blythe, whoreceived his vaccine at the health department, tells JIS Newsthat he is “happy that the vaccine is here.”
He commendsthe Government for getting the vaccine into the island and is urging residents of the parish to take it when the time comes.
“I hear a lot of people say a lot about (the vaccine) but I beg them, when it’s your turn to have the vaccine, don’t hesitate. Come in and have the vaccine, because the ones that have been approved are safe and you will be safe if you take your vaccine,” he says.
Dr. Blythe lauds the staff of the Westmoreland Health Department and encouraged them to continue treating persons coming in with compassion “because that will also take away a lot of the fear that persons may have about the vaccine.”