Premier, Opposition leader among first Covid-19 vaccinations
The Premier yesterday urged the island’s Black population to reject “vaccine hesitancy” as he got one of the first Covid-19 jabs.
David Burt said resistance to getting the injection was down to “historic” and “legacy” problems, but appealed to people to research the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines.
He added: "We are doing this today as we feel that it is important to combat vaccine hesitancy, especially within the Black community, and show that us as leaders are prepared to lead by example.
“There are disparities between the communities in Bermuda of willingness to take the vaccine.
“As we know, this disease, globally and in Bermuda, has had a disproportionate negative impact on persons of colour. Those are the facts.
“In order to protect ourselves and to protect our families we have to be willing to go ahead and get the protection that is there.”
Mr Burt said: “There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there.
“We are fully confident that this vaccine is safe and effective.
“I am taking this vaccine today because I trust the science and the numerous regulatory authorities around the world that have studied it and assured us all that it is safe.”
He was speaking as he got his Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination along with Kim Wilson, the health minister, Cole Simons, the Opposition leader and Carika Weldon, the Government’ Covid-19 test expert.
Mr Burt said that the pandemic could only be controlled if enough people got the vaccine.
He added: “We want to vaccinate as many people as possible so we can prevent them, their loved ones and also help this island to achieve herd immunity.
“According to most experts, if we are able to vaccinate between 60 and 70 per cent of our population, we can halt the transmission and spread of this virus.”
Ms Wilson could not provide figures on the take up of the vaccine, but added that sessions had been fully booked.
She said the island’s first round of vaccinations was “a memorable day for Bermuda”.
Ms Wilson added: “Vaccines save lives – millions of lives globally each year – and have done so for over a century.”
She highlighted that the last recorded case of measles in Bermuda was in 1991 because of a strict vaccination regime.
Mr Simons said: “If by taking this vaccine one life is saved, that’s good enough for Bermuda.
“But we know from experience and the science that it has proven to be effective.
“As a consequence, we are here today to support each other, support the people of this country and to lead by example.”
Mr Simons admitted that he was at first nervous about getting the vaccine, but had been reassured by friends and colleagues in the medical profession as well as by his own research.
The Covid-19 vaccine is an MRNA vaccine – a new type of vaccine.
The US Centres for Disease Control said that MRNAs “teach our cells how to make a protein, or even just a piece of protein, that triggers an immune response inside our bodies”
The CDC added: “That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.”
Ms Weldon said she researched MRNAs as an undergraduate at the University of Leicester in the UK ten years ago.
She added: “To now be ten years on, here, ready to see an MRNA vaccine being given to my people is very exciting.
“I want to encourage everyone to get a vaccine. This is safe. It has been researched for decades.
“I have met the researchers who have been working on this for decades.
“A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this and I am here to take it because I fully believe in the science.”
Benjamin Lau, the president of the Bermuda Medical Doctors’ Association, said: “Without hesitation, I am willing to be given the vaccine.
“I did a lot of research of my own before making the decision and it is the right decision.
“Speaking as the president of the BMDA, I believe we have a leadership role to play.”