BY SHARON VAN ARNEMAN
To register or not to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – that is the question! This past Monday, February 22, many Sint Maarteners watched as Nurse Claudette Rijff of the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation was administered the first Covid-19 vaccine on the island, live on Facebook. Since then, the Prime Minister, along with several health care professionals and senior citizens, has also taken the jab. Still, so many Sint Maarteners across a broad spectrum of the population continue to express concerns about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. For some, it’s because they hate needles almost as much as I do; some want to wait and see how the vaccine will work for others before they can make up their minds about it; and then there are those who are naturally distrustful of just about anything.
I believe the widespread uncertainty about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is probably largely due to the slew of conspiracy theories and misinformation that have been circulating – in some cases, even before the vaccine was officially approved for public use – especially because of how quickly the COVID-19 vaccines were developed! One has to agree, though, that it’s pretty cool that on Sint Maarten, every resident – documented and undocumented – can register to receive the vaccine; and my encouragement to anyone still hesitant about getting vaccinated is to do your own research. Try to be objective as you prayerfully consider the scientific and medical data, and assess whether the benefits will outweigh the risks, then you can feel comfortable about making an informed decision. That’s what I did.
What I discovered in my research is that there is overwhelming scientific and medical evidence in support of the COVID-19 vaccines. And while it is true that when compared to other vaccines, it appears that COVID-19 vaccines were developed in a relatively brief amount of time, safety testing has not been any less thorough, nor was the science rushed. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines were tested in the same way as vaccines for other diseases. “The research that led to these vaccines has been going on for 15 years or more,” according to Timothy F. Murphy, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine, director of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute and an infectious diseases physician scientist. “It started during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 and 2004. This is the case for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and it is going to be the same with the other vaccines to come.”
As we all know, receiving the vaccine is completely voluntary and everyone must be persuaded in their own mind about it. That’s why when I made the personal decision to follow the science; it was an easy decision for me to take that step and register to receive the vaccine. Among the many reasons that settled it for me, was one which Sint Maarten’s own Nurse Claudette Rijff mentioned when receiving her vaccine: Getting vaccinated is something we do not just for ourselves, but for each other as well. Yes, getting vaccinated protects me; but it also protects my family and the people I do community with. So when we decide to get vaccinated, we become a part of building that herd immunity that is so essential to effectively stop the spread of the virus – and that is just one of the many reasons why I couldn’t hesitate to register for my jab.
To contact Sharon,
write to P.O. Box 484,
Philipsburg, St. Maarten,