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No serious side effects from COVID vaccine in Barbados


No serious side effects from COVID vaccine in Barbados
Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Arthur Phillips (left) and Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George at the town hall meeting. (Picture by Sandy Pitt)

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Significantly less than one per cent of those who have taken the COVID-19 vaccination in Barbados have experienced adverse effects and even less still can be categorised serious effects.

This is according to the most recent data released by the Adverse Effects Following Immunisation Committee (AEFIC), which was disclosed by Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Arthur Phillips, during the second in a series of town hall meeting on vaccines and testing at the Princess Margaret School on Wednesday.

Phillips revealed that out of the over 182 000 doses administered in Barbados, there were three moderate to serious reactions while 442 people had minor reactions.

“The vaccination, as with any immunisation can come with some mild side effects in terms of pain at the injection site, itching and the flu like symptoms… We are quite satisfied that the level of any adverse effects is extremely low… We would have shared this information because we believe that it is appropriate to share in the context of what we are discussing and the work of the team is continuous, so as they receive submissions, they are reviewed and the information is collected and assessed,” said Phillips.

Also weighing in on the statistics was Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George, who also sits on the AEFIC committee. He made it clear that each claim was taken very seriously but noted the majority of the effects were as a result of the immune system being primed.

“We want the public to not only come for what they describe as major disease. If you want to report that you had swelling in your arm, we take that seriously. If you want to report that you had a fever, nausea or feeling unwell after the vaccine [you can also do so].

“What I will tell you is many of the minor symptoms that occur with respect to vaccinations are occurring because your immune system is being primed. So that you reach a stage where you feel unwell for a day or two because what is happening is that your immune system is spilling out antibodies,” said George

However, the statistics disclosed received push back from attendee Valerie-Suzette Jean-Marie, who is the head of the Barbados Independent Complaints Register. She argued that the figures collected by her organisation show “slightly higher” numbers.

“I heard what you said about the numbers and there were some things that concerned me… The numbers come to my desk, many people are afraid to speak out and my figures show slightly different,” she said. (CLM)