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University of West Indies forum urges Caribbean residents to take COVID-19 vaccine 

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covid19 test

Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020. 3:53 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Last week at a forum hosted by the office of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Vice-Chancellor Hillary Beckles, aimed at encouraging a responsible, positive and open-minded approach towards the COVID-19 vaccine, panellists addressed common questions and concerns. 

The University has established a COVID-19 task force which serves as a trusted, reliable, single source of information on the Caribbean’s response to the pandemic. 

Dr Luz Longsworth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs and Principal of The UWI Open Campus delivered welcome remarks. “As we now approach the end of 2020, The UWI presents the first in what will be a series of conversations on vaccinations now developed and those being developed for COVID-19,” she said. “This has been an unprecedented rapid vaccine development, probably the fastest in history. The UWI is pleased to provide this platform and space to engage with Caribbean experts, to discuss and explore some of the issues of concern around the vaccination, such as safety and effectiveness, what they do to your body and of course, the ethical issue around access. Given the nature of this pandemic, there are many myths and misinformation. As a university of excellence, it is our role to provide this means of engagement with our renowned researchers, scientists and practitioners such as our panellists and to explore what this new phase of COVID-19 means for us in the Caribbean.” 

Presenters included immunologist and chair of the UWI COVID-19 Task Force, Professor Clive Landis, addressing vaccine effectiveness and the “anti-vax” movement; Professor of Molecular Genetics and Virology at The UWI St. Augustine Campus, Professor Christine Carrington, speaking to the safety of vaccines, testing and the ins and outs of the virus; Head of The UWI Five Islands School of Nursing, Karen Josiah, refuting common myths and perceptions surrounding vaccines and debunked beliefs that vaccines contain harmful substances or even microchips; and Chair of the PAHO Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group, Professor Peter Figueroa, explaining the measures being taken globally to ensure equity of access to safe, high-quality, effective and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. 

The recorded broadcast of the forum will air on UWItv Cable channels on the FLOW EVO network on Sunday, December 27, 2020, at 8:30 AM (EST/Jamaica), 9:30 AM (AST/Eastern Caribbean), 7:30 a.m. Belize time. 

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