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The Sinopharm vaccine. Image: Cindy Raghubar-Teekersingh

As I sit and observe scientists, doctors, members of Parliament from both sides, and even the Honourable Prime Minister, emotionally pleading with members of the population to listen to science and become vaccinated, it became apparent to me that vaccine hesitancy is due to either lack of or the mass circulation of erroneous information.

One of the main reasons put forward by the non-vaccinated is the vaccine is experimental and not safe to enter one’s body. According to the World Health Organisation, there are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all Covid-19 vaccines. Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, Covid-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and efficacy.

Unprecedented scientific collaborations have allowed Covid-19 vaccine research, development, and authorisations to be completed in record time to meet the urgent need for these vaccines while maintaining high safety standards.

As with all vaccines, WHO and regulatory authorities will continuously monitor the use of Covid-19 vaccines to identify and respond to any safety issues that might arise, and through that process to assure they remain safe for use around the world.

I distinctly remember not too long ago our main worry was when a vaccine would be available to us. Fortunately, we now have hundreds of thousands available due to the proactive planning by the Government. I hereby make this request to those who have been vaccinated and understand the importance of the vaccine. Do not criticise our fellow citizens for not accepting the vaccine or being hesitant. Instead, convey upon yourself the title of Covid-19 vaccine ambassador. In this key role, you will show support to vaccine-hesitant members of the community.

As an ambassador, be passionate about people getting a vaccine, give helpful feedback on culturally sensitive messages, learn more about the Covid-19 vaccine via a virtual session and shared resources, create a list of your network of friends, family and co-workers to share information about the vaccine and vaccine event, track progress, dedicate some of your time weekly to serve as an ambassador.

Let us not depend solely on the Ministry of Health, or, by extension, the Government, to convince people of the importance of being vaccinated. We all have to do our part to overcome this dreadful disease and make this world safer for each and everyone.

Nigel Seenathsingh

San Fernando

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