On Sunday, February 7th, I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I was extremely nervous, and, in all honesty, from what was being said in the news, I had my reservations. However, after talking with multiple doctors as well as watching my friend take the same vaccine two days before me, I felt confident that I was making the right choice.

So, I received my first dose at 2pm that Sunday. I was definitely preparing myself for symptoms of the vaccine, since almost everyone I knew around my age became incredibly sick for the two days following their vaccination. In fact, as part of my own decision process, I went with a friend who received the vaccine on a Friday and stayed with them to make sure they weren’t alone when the side effects kicked in. My friend got extremely sick to the point of vomiting and fainting, so I was prepared for the worst. 

Around 12am on the Monday morning following my vaccine, I realized that I felt super uncomfortable. I had a high fever, cold sweats and a headache. But, I was overly prepared for this. I had my Panadol (Advil is not recommended), an ice pack, and other things to make me comfortable. By the time I woke up on Monday morning, I was completely fine. All that was left was an extremely sore arm.

This experience made me realize that everyone will have a different reaction to the vaccine, and you can’t take just one person’s experience on how it will be. For example, my grandparents received the vaccine and didn’t get sick at all. One of my doctors got extremely sick, and another one said he had no symptoms. So, it is highly dependent on you.

One of the first comments I got from a friend about me receiving the vaccine was: “How did you get to take the vaccine so early?”. Luckily, I am from Barbados, and their vaccine rollout prior to the end of March was one of the fastest rollouts in the world. At the time of writing this article, over 60,000 people have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This represents almost 22% of our population.

I got vaccinated with my mum. She falls within a vulnerable category, and the doctors actually decided they would just vaccinate everyone who turned up at the clinic regardless of if they fit the current vaccination group or not.

One of the reasons for this is that the topic of vaccines has been very controversial in the Caribbean, as well as many other parts of the world, because of the history of mass sterilization and euthanasia being forced onto oppressed members of the population. Therefore, there was a serious concern that people in Barbados would not actually take the vaccine.

Being an island highly dependent on tourism, the government and medical associations simply believe that the only way we can restore our economy is to vaccinate everyone on the island. This way we can be ready to open up for business again soon.

My advice to those sceptical about the vaccine is to do your own research. Talk to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, because they will be able to guide you better than scary, clickbait articles.

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