Doctor Jeremy Claude Myers, the Acting Chief Medical Officer for the Turks and Caicos Islands has likened vaccinating against COVID-19 to wearing a seatbelt while driving.
Addressing a recent news conference on the impact that the coronavirus has on the Turks and Caicos Islands and the strides the Ministry of Health was making in its battle against the disease, Myers asserted that while wearing a seatbelt does not ultimately save one from an accident, it can greatly minimize serious injuries.
He noted that while the vaccine does not stop someone from contracting the disease, it can exponentially reduce the risk of an Intensive Care Unit admission.
“COVID now has caused this global pandemic. So, it would be only appropriate that a vaccine would be brought in to help us fight against it,” he asserted.
He added: “All of us here in the TCI, who is of legal age will drive. Now, as safe as you want to be as a driver, you can still get in an accident. I would employ the vaccine as equivalent as the seatbelt that we all use in our car.”
He emphasized that in addition to airbags, seatbelts, if one gets into an accident, can prevent serious injuries, especially to critical parts of the body, especially the head and neck, which he said could sometimes lead to paralysis and other debilitating outcomes.
He was quick to point out that seatbelts can protect someone from danger but not all.
“Wearing a seatbelt does not prevent an accident in the same way getting vaccinated does not prevent you from getting infected, but of course, can reduce the effects of the impact,” he argued.
He continued: “If you get in an accident does wearing a seatbelt reduce the severity (of the impact)? If you get in an accident, your seatbelt will reduce the chance of you getting severe injuries. Similarly, the COVID-19 Vaccine protects you from experiencing the more severe symptoms of the virus.
“And of course, when we speak about the more severe symptoms, we are speaking mainly of ending up in the hospital, getting oxygen to breathe properly. And of course, ultimately needing a ventilator, which is, they are going to paralyze your muscles, they are going to introduce a tube down your throat and hook you up to a machine that is essentially breathing for you. That is what we call ICU – Intensive Care (Unit).”
“In furthering his analogy, Dr. Myers noted: “Does wearing a seatbelt means you should drive recklessly? Of course not. So, you should still follow any and every safety precaution while driving. Go at moderate speed, check your mirrors regularly, try not to brake abruptly, if the road is wet, take your time.
“So, in the same way, if you are getting vaccinated you still must use the other precautions. Wear your masks, keep your distance, sanitize your hands frequently or wash your hands.”
He noted further: “Does the wearing of seatbelt mean you won’t injure others? Even though you are vaccinated there is still a chance you can still spread COVID-19.
“The science has shown us that it greatly reduces the possibility of transmission, but it is not zero percent. So, it is an additive in reducing the transmission in the way the seatbelt would give you that protection, but you can transmit it to others.
“Can you have some seatbelt marks when you get in an accident if you are jerked up in the car really hard?
“Seatbelt injuries are possible. So, in the same way the COVID-19 may have some initial side effects…pain to the arm, a little fever, aches and pains, you feel a little lousy. But essentially, most of those will wear off. And the side effects we experience from vaccination is really that our bodies are telling us that the immune system has picked it up and is preparing those antibodies to fight an infection if you are exposed again.
“So, should you still wear a seatbelt? Of course. Wear your seatbelts to protect yourself in the same way you would get vaccinated is to protect yourself as well as protect others.”
Myers advised that vaccines and immunizations are not new, asserting that most of us, at one point or another, would have gotten vaccinated while going to school or traveling, to prevent diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.