PFIZER DRIVES VACCINE UPTAKE: Young people show up in droves to take first dose of new vaccine option

PFIZER DRIVES VACCINE UPTAKE: Young people show up in droves to take first dose of new vaccine option
Rachel Outten, 13, shows up at Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium to receive her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, August 19, 2021.

34K doses of Johnson & Johnson arrived in Bahamas yesterday morning

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Rachel Outten, 13, exited the Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium with a COVID-19 vaccination sticker after taking her first dose of Pfizer around 10.30am yesterday, joining scores of residents who lined up for the US-manufactured vaccine.

Scores of residents line up outside the Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium on Thursday, August 19, to receive vaccinations against COVID-19.

“It went really well and they gave me some candy, which I thought was nice,” she told Eyewitness News alongside her father.

“It feels like a regular shot, nothing too major.”

Asked if she felt safer having been vaccinated, Outten said: “Yes, sure. I am not going to die.”

She said she plans to encourage her peers to get the jab.

The rollout of Pfizer began at the gymnasium off University Boulevard yesterday morning, after 128,000 doses arrived via a donation from the United States last Friday.

Scores of residents, many of whom were teenagers, queued up at the vaccination site.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan told Eyewitness News outside the site that the general public rollout was “going well”, though she could not provide specifics on numbers.

As he waited in line to receive his first dose of Pfizer, 16-year-old Tariq John said he had no concerns.

Tariq John, 16.

“It’s pretty normal,” he said with a shrug. “It’s something I have to do, so I said let’s get it out of the way. I think it’s important because number one, I don’t want to die.

“I think that’s the main reason I want to take the vaccine.”

Asked if he planned to encourage his classmates to get vaccinated, John said he believes it should be a personal choice.

He said: “You just can’t stop some people from doing what they want to do.”

Accompanying her two sons, ages 12 and 15, Susan Charlow said: “I have been waiting for this vaccine to get here for the kids because my household is vaccinated other than these two and I have two young babies in my house and I want them to be protected.

“So, sort of like the herd immunity idea, protect the older ones and protect the younger ones.

“I got the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Susan Charlow, her toddler, and two sons, ages 12 and 15, from left to right

Meanwhile, renowned CrossFit athlete Jamie Thompson, named 2021’s fittest in The Bahamas, said he was weighing his options for some time, but made the decision to get vaccinated with Pfizer after finding the research compelling.

“It took me a while really to truly understand the importance of getting vaccinated, especially for my family and who I reside with, so that played a huge factor in it,” he said.

“That’s really it. I can’t really stress the importance of making sure my family is safe and others ensuring that their families are safe.”

A father who identified himself as Mr Rolle and said his 14-year-old son and wife were receiving the Pfizer vaccine, told Eyewitness News the choice to vaccinate was simple.

Rolle has been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca.

CrossFit athlete Jamie Thompson

His son attends a private school on New Providence.

“It’s simple — health over everything,” he said.

“I am not one of those conspiracy theorists. I understand millions took it before.

“You always have complications with any drug, but the reward outweighs the risk.

“The reward is a healthy child and the risk is COVID.

Minister of Health Renward Wells (second left) and Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan (right), along with health officials and officials of UNICEF, receive 38,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, August 19, 2021. At Jet Nassau. (BIS/ULRIC WOODSIDE)

“I was waiting for them to bring it in and get him sorted out; I only have one, so I have to protect him, and his mum is in there with him, but she is going to Baha Mar to get their shot.”

Gerard Taylor, who got his first dose of Pfizer around 11am, said he was awaiting Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson to arrive in country.

A total of 34,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson arrived in The Bahamas yesterday morning.

Taylor said with the surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations, he felt extra motivated to become vaccinated.

As a boater, Taylor regularly works around visitors.

“I wasn’t too comfortable with the AstraZeneca,” Taylor said.

“Because of all the cases going up, everybody in the hospital. Open your eyes and you can see what’s going on. I was a fan of Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.