After a life-changing battle with COVID-19 three months ago, Dealo Riley said he decided to put aside his fears and get vaccinated.
Riley was among the three dozen or so people waiting outside the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday to get their second dose of the vaccine.
“I caught COVID and almost died,” he said bluntly when asked why he decided to get vaccinated.
When he caught the virus, Riley said he went to the hospital but was turned away.
“At the time, they didn’t have enough space and then I didn’t have a breathing issue so I didn’t need to be on a ventilator,” he said.
He returned home to battle COVID alone.
“It was nerve-racking,” he said.
“Your main concern is basically fear. Fear is what kills you. I am a strong dude and after it demobilizes you, it plays with your mind, but if you’re strong enough to say you’re going to fight it, you will get through it. I believe fear killed a lot of people.”
He said, “For the first two days I didn’t even move.
“I couldn’t eat. I was scared to sleep.”
At one point, Riley said he couldn’t walk for short distances in his home without running out of breath.
That’s when he started lining up chairs in his house.
“So if I have to put four chairs down to get to the kitchen, that’s what I’d do,” he said.
“I’d line them up. If I walked two steps and get winded I’d put a chair down.”
But why was he so hesitant to take the shot?
“You couldn’t get me to come out here,” he said.
“Everybody was saying different things. I was wrong for taking everybody’s opinion on it.
“When I caught it, a friend of mine who is fully vaccinated caught it also and his symptoms weren’t as strong as mine. So the vaccine helped in some way.
“There are plenty of people who are still telling me don’t take it.
“To be honest with you, a lot of people are probably out here because it hit close to home or they lost somebody that they loved.”
Riley encouraged anyone who feels hesitant to reconsider.
“… You don’t want it,” he said.
“The vaccine helps.”
As of October 14, the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced that due to diminishing supplies of the vaccine, first doses of Pfizer will no longer be offered.
As of October 23, second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be offered, according to the ministry, which added that, consequently, the Pfizer vaccine will be made available as a second dose instead.
According to the ministry, as of Saturday, 119,172 people were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in The Bahamas (including Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and a total of 129,687 people had received at least one dose of a vaccine (not including Johnson & Johnson).
A total of 244,303 doses of the COVID vaccines were administered to people in The Bahamas.
The crowd outside the gym thinned for most of the morning. There were not nearly as many people outside as there were on Monday.
Many residents sat underneath a tent and waited for their number to be called.
Some retreated underneath the shade of palm trees.
The doors of the gym periodically opened as people left the building with the deed already done.
Jay Cadet burst through the doors with his mother, Maurie Cadet, 82, in a wheelchair.
His father, Jack Cadet Sr., 85, was right behind him.
Jay Cadet said he was pleased that his parents finally took the second shot.
He said they were apprehensive at first but he wanted to make sure that they didn’t catch the virus.
“They getting along in age and we want to make sure that they are safe,” he said.
He added, “A lot of people that we knew who didn’t take the shot, unfortunately, are no longer here.”
The Guardian asked Jack Cadet why he was so reluctant to get the shot.
“I thought it was going to hurt but it didn’t hurt,” he said.
Asked what changed his mind, he said, “My daughter made a reservation and told my son to pick us up to take the first shot. He did that.”
For Moesha Archer and Rasheed Nelus, their decision to get vaccinated was based on other reasons.
Archer said her mother “forced” her to get the shot. She said she also plans to travel in November.
But she said she still feels “iffy” about the vaccine.
“I still haven’t done too much research,” she said.
“I’m not really sure about the cons and the pros about it.”
Nelus said he has an employment opportunity on a cruise ship and will be required to be vaccinated.
He said he’s been hesitant because of the news he reads on social media.
“Most people feel like the vaccine came too quickly,” he said.
“I feel the same way but at the same time, I want to protect the people around me. So if vaccination helps prevent that then I’d go ahead and do it.”
Nukeba Cooper said she also got the shot because of travel plans.
Asked why she was hesitant to get vaccinated, Cooper said she felt that the vaccine was “experimental”.
“You weren’t sure what was in the shot,” she said.
“Were they trying to track us or chip us? I just really didn’t know what was in the shot. I was just going to wait it out and maybe take it early next year, but I have to travel so I have to take it.”
She continued, “Now I’m ok. They said we’re going to be taking it every year, they want us to get vaccinated every year. I’m thinking that’s when they are going to start putting those tracking chips in it.”
The Nassau Guardian asked if she was being serious.
She replied, “Yea.”
What would be the point, The Guardian asked.
With a straight face, she whispered, “New world order.”
(The Nassau Guardian)