Over 600 health workers vaccinated in two days; committee set up to monitor side effects

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Guyana began its COVID immunization on February 11 and within the first two days, over 600 frontline health workers were vaccinated, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony said on Monday, adding that a special committee has been set up to monitor the side effects of those taking the jab.

Dr Anthony revealed that more persons were vaccinated at the weekend.

“I don’t have a complete number at this point in time but I can tell you on the first day we had about 318 persons who took the vaccine and then the second day we got about 350,” the minister explained.

According to Dr Anthony, the response from the health workers to take the vaccine has been tremendous, noting this is good sign for thousands more to be vaccinated within a few weeks.

“A lot of people came forward and wanted the vaccine. The amount of vaccines that we took initially, we ran out, but we made sure to sort that out so that everybody who came were able to get their vaccine,” the minister stated.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony speaks with the media (Photo: DPI/February 11, 2021)

The Minister further commended senior medical doctors for leading the way and taking the jab. Those who took the vaccine last week include Head of the Medical Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), Dr Fawcett Jeffrey; Head of the Emergency Medical Service, Dr Zulfikar Bux; Head of Internal Medicine and cardiologist, Dr Mahendra Carpen; Head of Anesthesia, Dr Alexandra Harvey; along with Head of Pediatric Surgery, Dr Marissa Seepersaud.

“I am extremely pleased that quite a lot of the senior doctors at Georgetown Public Hospital actually took the vaccine,” the minister said.

These doctors have being updating their social media pages on the side effects they have been experiencing after taking the vaccine. According to Dr Anthony, side effects such as discomfort at the vaccination site, fatigue, fever and headache are normal after taking any vaccine.

“All these are expected and it shows that your body is reacting to the vaccine which means that your immune system is probably working and starting to produce the antibodies necessary to fight off COVID-19.”

However, the Minister said it would be worrisome if a person develops adverse side effects or an allergic reaction 15-20 minutes after being vaccinated. As such everyone who is administered a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to remain 15-20 minutes after for medical observation.

The minister said nurses and doctors will also continue to follow up with patients on whether they develop any further signs or symptoms.

Meanwhile, the minister also revealed a National Committee was set up to monitor any adverse effects of the vaccine.

“We have a National Committee that has been set up to do Pharmacovigilance, meaning to monitor for any adverse events that might occur and once we are able to detect it we will then be able to explain to people how to resolve it and in some cases what actions to be taken and so forth,” the minister said.

The country is expected to receive thousands of dosage of additional vaccines by the end of the month and according to Dr Anthony this will be able to ensure all frontline health workers are vaccinated.

On February 10, 2021 Guyana received its first donation of some 3,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from Barbados.

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