What should you expect?
The Daily Herald reported yesterday, Monday, February 22, that the islands of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba have received an undisclosed amount of the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands on Friday, February 19. After receiving the vaccines, the roll-out for the process began yesterday, Monday, February 22.
The first person to receive the vaccine was a frontline worker, Nurse Claudette of the White & Yellow Cross. It was broadcast on a live national address via the Facebook page of the Government of St. Maarten and included a full description of the process as well as remarks from Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs; Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever, in her capacity as Acting Health Minister; and White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) Operations Manager Bregje Boetekees.
For the purpose of the live feed, the injection took place in one room at the WYCCF. Ordinarily, protocol will involve taking the recipient from one room to another to complete the vaccination process. An intake form will be required, complete with medical questions providing the nurses with personal medical information that will be pertinent for receiving the jab. The intake nurse will review the paperwork carefully, noting any previous history of adverse side effects to receiving vaccinations, and then the patient and nurse will together sign a consent form ensuring the patient is well aware of the mild, associated side effects and is still willing to partake. In preparation for administering, the vaccine is diluted in a separate room and then brought to the recipient.
This was demonstrated by the WYCCF nurses: Nurse Nancy, who administered the vaccine, as well as the first recipient, Nurse Claudette. The jab is an intramuscular injection in one’s upper arm. This represents the first dose of the vaccination, as another must be administered after three weeks. While mild side effects are common, they are outlined in the information package for the recipient’s revision.
It is reported that one week after the injection, recipients will reach the maximum amount of protection against the virus, but must return to receive the second dosage to be fully protected from the coronavirus. In the public address, Nurse Nancy took the time to ask Nurse Claudette questions about her experience with having received the vaccine; the responses were positive.
Nurse Claudette was reported as saying she was excited for the opportunity to receive the vaccine and that the only effects she felt in the moment was tingling in her arm from having been pricked. When asked why she had volunteered, Nurse Claudette said, “I work in the COVID unit [of WYCCF] and I have seen how our clients are vulnerable after receiving COVID. I took the vaccine because I wanted to protect them from it.”
At the time of publishing, the number of residents who have volunteered to get the vaccine stands at over 1,600. As part of the vaccination program, the first to receive the jabs will be frontline workers, who are at a higher risk for coming in contact with the virus; the elderly and immunocompromised of the island.
It is imperative that the unvaccinated members of society remain vigilant in their efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many are still vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Please continue to wear your masks, wash your hands frequently and remain at a healthy social distance.