Gov’t hopes for new adult vaccination law ahead of COVID vaccine rollout

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The Guyana Government is looking to close a gap in the country’s vaccination law that addresses adult vaccination ahead of the countrywide rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Guyana only has laws that address vaccination for children. No law was ever put in place for the vaccination of adults.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, during his daily COVID update on Tuesday, said the Corona Virus Immunization Bill will be brought before the National Assembly in early 2021 by the government.

He said the government would welcome the input of the Parliamentary opposition once the piece of draft legislation comes up for debate in the House.

“There can be the ventilation of ideas in Parliament. The opposition can say what they would like to see in the Bill when it comes to the floor and we will take that and move the process forward,” Dr. Anthony said.

He explained that the existing legislation that addresses children will remain in a place without amendments while new legislation to deal with adults will be put in place.

Dr. Anthony said he doesn’t anticipate any challenges to the passage of the legislation as Guyana prepares to conduct its rollout of COVID-19 vaccines next year.

He said the legislation is important since the COVID vaccine, unlike other vaccines, targets adults.

“The Bill has to do with COVID… the only way to exit the pandemic is that people need to be immunized and one way is through a vaccine,” he added.

Dr. Anthony explained that the new legislation is not to force vaccines on anyone, but rather to guide the process of vaccination among adults, something the country never had before.

During last Wednesday’s sitting of the National Assembly, Dr. Anthony tabled a motion called Global Pandemic of COVID-19.

The motion, which was passed later in the house is for the “realization of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana and for support of methods to deal with this: through tests, treatment, and immunization of citizens,” Dr. Anthony stated.

He said as preparation is being made for a roll-out of the national COVID-19 vaccine program, Government must also consider its own immunization system.

Guyana will access a COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX mechanism, which was launched in April 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in response to the pandemic. This mechanism seeks to ensure people in all parts of the world are able to access COVID-19 vaccines once they are available.

In the meantime, on the setting up of the National Vaccine Task Force, Minister Anthony said the private sector and other civil society bodies will lead in this major logistical undertaking.

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