Frontline workers vaccinated as Guyana begins COVID immunization

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Almost a year after the first COVID-19 case and death in Guyana, the country began its COVID immunization on Thursday, administering the first jab to Brinnet Bernarai, a Pharmacist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Several other frontline workers at the GPHC and the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, are expected to receive the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday.

In brief comments after taking the vaccine, Bernarai told the News Room that while she was nervous at first, she felt relaxed after taking the vaccine.

“It was ok. I didn’t feel anything out of the normal, I was glad to work on the frontline,” she said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to officially list the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use today.

On Wednesday, Guyana received its first donation of some 3,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from Barbados. This will be administered to some 1,400 frontline health workers who are required to take two doses of the vaccines; the second is given four to 12 weeks after the first. The CARICOM Secretariat will use 200 doses to vaccinate 100 persons.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony speaks with Brinnet Bernarai, the pharmacist who received the first jab (Photo: DPI/February 11, 2021)

It comes exactly one month shy of a full year after the virus was in Guyana on March 11, 2020. The first case and death was a woman who travelled from New York.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, after witnessing the first jab being administered, said it was a historic moment and the government was pleased to initiate the process.

“This might look like a simple moment but it marks the beginning of the turnaround of the pandemic in Guyana,” he said.

Dr Anthony explained that the government’s intention is to achieve herd immunity, which can only be accomplished if 80 per cent or more of the population is vaccinated.

He said the process started at GPHC because the hospital served as the epicenter for infected persons and health workers there are more at risk. Some 22,000 healthcare workers are to be vaccinated with Dr Anthony also promising vaccines for health workers working in the private sector.

Another frontline worker received the jab (Photo: DPI/February 11, 2021)

He said the government was looking to procure more vaccines.

Guyana has already secured a donation of 22,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and another 104,000 does of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX facility.

Guyana will receive another 149,000 through the African Union/ CARICOM agreement and is currently in talks with India for additional vaccines.

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