Three Vincentian physicians in the United States are urging nationals to embrace the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it is the best thing to do amid the pandemic.
They made this appeal in light of fear, reluctance or hesitance among many in the global community, including the Vincentian and Caribbean communities.
In separate and exclusive interviews with Caribbean Life, Drs. Desmond Browne, Kenneth “Kenny” Williams and Clifford Young, said the vaccine was the best tool now being made available to tackle the deadly virus.
“Everything you do in life is risk versus benefit,” said Dr. Browne, a family practice physician in the Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. “There are people with medical conditions and people without medical conditions, and they test positive for the COVID-19 antibodies, and they didn’t know they had the virus.
“When you look at the risk, outside of the vaccine, we really didn’t have a tool to treat this disease,” added Dr. Browne, also a staff attending physician at three Brooklyn hospitals — Brooklyn Presbyterian Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital, and State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn. “We really didn’t get a straightforward cure for it.
“We (should) take the vaccine, because of the risk of terrible death,” continued Dr. Browne, noting that more than 300,000 people in the United States also have died after contracting the COVID-19 virus. “It’s really apples and oranges here.
“We should jump at the opportunity to take the vaccine,” said Dr. Browne, disclosing that he’ll be taking the vaccine this week. “Absolutely, I’m in favor of Caribbean and Vincentian nationals taking the vaccine.”
Dr. Williams, an anesthesiologist at Edinburg Regional Medical Center, Edinburg, South Texas, said he did not hesitate to take the first dose of the vaccine on Dec. 17 — his second does is due on Jan. 4 — “based on information we (medical practitioners) were given, safety and everything else (94-95 percent efficacy).
“Because I deal with patients every time, I decided to get myself more protection sooner rather than later,” said Dr. Williams, who obtained his doctor of medicine (MD) degree from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1992 and, subsequently, completed residency in anesthesiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
In August 2019, Dr. Williams said he completed an MBA from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley.
“Caribbean and Vincentian nationals are no different from anyone else,” said Dr. Williams, urging them to take the COVID-19 vaccine. “The vaccine is deemed safe, based on scientific principles. The Pfizer vaccine is the one I took. So far, I have tolerated it, with no side effects.
“The vaccine offers protection against contracting the virus,” he added. “It’s like any other vaccine in that respect. If you never contract the virus, you can’t spread it.
“Vaccination, therefore, limits or significantly curtails the spread of the disease so we could go back to normal life,” Dr. Williams continued. “Caribbean economies would benefit from normalcy.”
Dr. Young – an attending physician at Woodhull Medical Center in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital in Central Brooklyn, in the heart of the Caribbean community in Brooklyn – said that, while “Black people in this country (US) are fearful of this vaccine, this vaccine is safe.
“I look at the data, and the vaccine is safe,” stressed the Calliaqua native. “Caribbean people and Blacks should take the vaccine.
“We have the most morbidity and mortality; so, we should take it (vaccine),” said Dr. Young, who also has a private medical practice in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. “We suffer the most, we’re are an at risk-population, and we should be at the head of the line.”
He disclosed that his brother, James Young, a radiographer at the expansive Kings County Hospital in Central Brooklyn, took the vaccine last week.
“Should we be fearful of the vaccine? And the answer is ‘no’”, Dr. Young said. “When my turn comes, I’ll take it.”
The Atlanta-based US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it has authorized and recommended two vaccines to prevent COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
On Dec. 14, a Jamaican-born nurse created history by becoming the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sandra Lindsay, 52, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, received the vaccine shortly before 9:30 am, according to a statement from the Office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The statement said Guyanese-born Dr. Michelle Chester, Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services, administered the vaccine to Lindsay, a front-line health care worker eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1 of New York’s Vaccine Distribution Plan.
The vaccine was developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and New York’s Clinical Advisory Task Force.