NEW YORK (CMC): As many in the global community, including the Caribbean community in New York, express fear, reluctance or hesitance about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, some Caribbean-born physicians and other medical practitioners are urging community members to take the vaccine when it becomes available.
In exclusive interviews with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), at least three Caribbean physicians – a Trinidadian, a Guyanese, and a Vincentian – said taking the vaccine is the right and judicious thing to do.
“It’s important that people take the vaccine,” said Dr. Yolande Thomas-Badal, a Trinidad-born internist and emergency room physician at Interfaith Medical Center in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, who recently took the COVID-19 vaccine at her hospital.
“The vaccine is our first best defence from contracting COVID-19,” added Dr. Thomas-Badal, stating that she took the vaccine because it “offers protection.
“Also, I have a 91-year-old mother, and I don’t want my mother to be infected,” she said, disclosing that “I just got married and my husband will be coming up (from Trinidad and Tobago), and I don’t want him to get infected.
“You have to think of the other people who you’re around,” Dr. Thomas-Badal continued. “Being on the front line and seeing patients with coronavirus … and, if there’s anything to help me to prevent coronavirus, I’ll do it.”
She noted that “a lot of minorities have underlying medical problems, such as diabetes, cancers, and coronavirus [is] killing a lot of my people”.
Dr. Thomas-Badal said some of her patients are reluctant to take the vaccine, saying that “they don’t trust” it.
But Dr. Thomas-Badal stressed that “education is our best defence”.
“A lot of people want to wait to see what happens (with the COVID-19 vaccine), but, sometimes, we just can’t wait,” she urged. “We have to find a way to boost people’s confidence.”
SAFE FOR ALL
Dr. Clifford Young, a St Vincent-born attending physician at Woodhull Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant and SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital in Central Brooklyn, in the heart of the Caribbean community in Brooklyn, said, while “black people in this country are fearful of this vaccine, this vaccine is safe”.
“I look at the data, and the vaccine is safe,” he accentuated. “Caribbean people and blacks should take the vaccine.
“We have the most morbidity and mortality, so we should take it,” said Dr Young. “We suffer the most, we’re are an at-risk population, and we should be at the head of the line.
“Should we be fearful of the vaccine? The answer is no,” Dr. Young said. “When my turn comes, I’ll take it.”
Guyana-born Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, a physician trained at the Grenada-based St George’s University School of Medicine, said the Caribbean community should “embrace the vaccine and marvel at the efforts that the world’s scientists have created”.
“It’s important to get outside of our politics and see humanity as a species,” said Dr. Ramsammy.
On December 14, a Jamaica-born nurse created history by becoming the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sandra Lindsay, 52, an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York, received the vaccine, according to a statement from the Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The statement said Guyana-born Dr. Michelle Chester, Northwell health director of employee health services, administered the vaccine to Lindsay, a front-line healthcare worker eligible to receive the vaccine under phase one of New York’s vaccine distribution plan.