Health Minister Byron-Nisbett defends Indian company making COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine is safe: Minister of Health the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett addressing Prime Minister’s Monthly Health Walk participants at the end of the walk in Ottley’s. (Photos by Peter Ngũnjiri)
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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Federal Minister of Health the Hon. Akilah Byron-Nisbett is assuring the nation that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out in the country is safe and that the Indian company making it is a world-leader in vaccine production.

“The vaccine is safe,” said Health Minister Byron-Nisbett. “We wouldn’t tell you that it is safe if it wasn’t so. I want to encourage everyone to go out and get vaccinated.”

The tent on the Ottley’s hardcourts where persons were encouraged to book an appointment to take the vaccine. Prime Minister Harris is standing on the right.

The Hon. Byron-Nisbett, who is also the Minister of ICT, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development, made the remarks on February 27, when she addressed participants in the Prime Minister’s Monthly Health Walk assembled at the Ottley’s hardcourts at the end of the walk.

“Serum Institute of India is producing the most AstraZeneca Oxford vaccinations that are being distributed throughout the world,” said Hon. Byron-Nisbett. “The AstraZeneca Oxford brand would not have asked Serum Institute to make the vaccine for them if they did not believe that they were capable of doing so. So there is no need to fear that the vaccines are from India. That has nothing to do with whether or not the vaccine would do what is expected to do.”

According to the Hon. Byron-Nisbett, roughly 90 percent of the vaccines made in the world are from the Serum Institute of India. She advised the audience that many of the vaccines they received as children, and those now being received by their children are made from the Serum Institute of India.

The information session on the vaccine rollout, which was held at the end of the walk, was also addressed by Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Delores Stapleton-Harris; National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator and Health Educator, Dr. Mathias Afortu-Ofre; medical practitioners Dr. Dail Crawford, and Dr. Leroy Richardson; and District Medical Officer Dr. Bernicia Nisbett, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

“I had my shot, everybody saw that on Monday. and I am still feeling good,” commented the Hon. Byron-Nisbett. “There is no reason not to take the vaccine – we have more reasons to take it than not to take it.”

Members of the audience at the Ottley’s hardcourts were told they have an option, not to take the vaccine and get COVID-19 and risk having severe COVID-19 and possible death, or to take the vaccine and would not have severe COVID-19, nor would they die from COVID-19. She advised them to register under the tent that had been set up on the hardcourts and make an appointment to take the vaccine.

“The Ministry of Health will never tell anyone to take it if we do not believe it to be safe,” Byron-Nisbett pointed out. “The Prime Minister would not have taken it if he did not think it would be safe. We would not have allowed the Prime Minister take it if we did not believe that it was safe. So the fact that the Prime Minister took the vaccine the Ministry of Health endorsed that it is safe for our Prime Minister, the leader of this country to take the vaccine. That means you too can take the vaccine.”

Two members of the public Eldon ‘Big T’ Harris, and Damien Weekes, who already took the vaccine, said that it did not have any notable effect on them.

Health centres on St. Kitts offering the vaccine, according to Byron-Nisbett, are Basseterre, New Town, Sandy Point, Tabernacle, Cayon, and Molineux, while St. Peter’s Health Centre would be added to the list in the week starting March 1.

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