A Urological Surgeon, who attended medical school at The University of the West Indies; Jonathan Noël, aged 36, received his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in January 2021.
Born in the United Kingdom (UK), and raised in the Caribbean he is proud to share his personal opinion and experience with the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly in these uncertain times of the pandemic.
Dr Noël is currently specialising in Advanced Robotic Prostate Surgery in the US, after practicing for almost a decade in the UK. He has worked through the first peak of the pandemic on the non-contiguous European continent and now the subsequent peak on the North American continent.
Dr Noël recalls in April-May 2020, working in the UK’s National Health Service, in different specialities, such as Anaesthetics to facilitate the delivery of health care to patients affected by this novel virus. He is a firm believer in science; research and evidence-based policy. He has been involved in 2 collaborative longitudinal research projects; CovidSurg and the safety of Major Urological Cancer Surgery and the impact on training.
On 18 December 2020 (days after the vaccine distribution commenced in North America) he joined 100s of mission critical frontline workers in receiving his first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, the first FDA approved vaccine. Subsequently, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca have had approval from the Medical Regulatory Authorities.
Dr Noël is among other Caribbean citizens in North America and the United Kingdom to receive this vaccine. He received the required second dose at the appropriate interval in January 2021. For the sake of definitive clarity, Dr Noël did have the following side effects: headache and myalgia (muscle pain) after the first vaccine dose. These side effects were transient and subsided within a 24-hour period having had oral re-hydration and rest. After the second dose, he did not have any side effects. However, some close medical colleagues did have the side effects of headache, myalgia, fatigue; all which have been published as recognised norms within clinical trials.
The Global logistical delivery of the vaccine has not been without obstacles. Different Governments will have varying policy on which population group should be vaccinated first, and the adherence to the medically recommended intervals between both doses for maximal effect is imperative, in Dr Noël’s opinion. This is always challenging as the supplies are variable from country to country, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as exist in the Caribbean basin.
Dr Noël is married with 2 young children and they have all made the bold move from one Covid hot spot (UK) to another (US) in order to fulfil his continued specialisation journey in the art of Prostate Cancer surgery. He is currently operating at full capacity with the approved precautionary measures of screening staff and patients for Covid-19, despite the fact that the situation changes daily in accordance to active cases.
In addition, he has family in Grenada and the wider Caribbean, those being versed on the natural history of the disease, who are front line healthcare workers, are naturally concerned about the virus. “I am thankful to have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, it allows me to both protect my family, my patients and the wider community. I would implore everyone to discuss any concerns with your local healthcare provider, and certainly be critical of any unfounded rumours and false social media. The scientific breakthroughs, medicine and therapies are not generated and critically reviewed through social platforms. The evidence and the clinical trials were carried out, and continue to be updated.
I for one am confident of the immediate benefit, particularly as we are seeing a rapid rise in cases once again. The Caribbean is not spared and when the approved vaccine becomes available, I would join with my colleagues to advocate that the elderly and health care providers be offered this immediately. I am aware that some medical colleagues are hesitant and I will not pretend the vaccine is the final way out of this pandemic. However, it is complimentary to distancing, hand washing and face coverings. We learn every day about this novel global virus, but we can only beat it together…and of course not losing sight of our faith.”