Persons 40 and over to receive COVID jab from next week; gov’t aims to vaccinate 10,000 per day
With the focus currently on frontline health workers and persons 60 years and above for COVID-19 vaccination, President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday announced a massive vaccination campaign that will now target persons 40 years and older, starting next week.
In an address to the nation, where he appealed to citizens to take the pandemic seriously by adhering to the established protocols and guidelines, Dr Ali said the government is currently looking to procure another 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, in order for Guyana to attain herd immunity.
Acknowledging that the country has already secured 200,000 doses of the vaccine – 120,000 of the Oxford AstraZeneca and 80,000 of the Sinopharm, the President provided no detail on where the additional 200,000 doses will come from.
He noted, however, that his administration was in talks with several governments, including Russia, China, and India and also in direct talks with the producers of the vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna.
Guyana continues to engage the World Health Organization through the COVAX facility although its promised doses have been reduced to 24,000.
“The Government of Guyana is pursuing a strategy to vaccinate as many persons as possible to attain herd immunity. The goal is to vaccine 10,000 citizens per day,” the Head-of-State said.
The President’s comments on Wednesday came hours after the BBC reported that India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
The move will also affect supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses. Notwithstanding, the President remained confident that Guyana will be able to procure the vaccines for its citizens.
He said in order to store and manage the vaccines and execute the task, the Ministry of Health has engaged various private sector players with the capacity to assist in the rollout.
Additionally, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has agreed to make some 400 ranks available to help with expediting the registration of citizens, while persons from local government bodies, civil society, medical and nursing students and the medical brigade of the GDF will be trained to assist in the process.
Persons will also be recruited as volunteers and will be vaccinated as they lend their assistance to the countrywide vaccination drive.
Meanwhile, an expanded joint operation between the immigration department, the army, police, regional COVID-19 task force committees, the private sector and other members of civil society have been engaged in further securing the country’s borders, President Ali said.
With several religious and cultural events like Phagwah, Easter and Ramadan coming up, Dr Ali made a special appeal for adherence to the COVID guidelines.
“We urge religious leaders and citizens to adhere strictly to the approved COVID-19 guidelines for these events.”
He later pleaded: “The pandemic remains a serious national issue, a major global health concern. I urge you to continue to follow the guidelines. I urge you to continue to stay safe; I urge you to continue to protect your families and your communities by adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines. We’re not ahead of the curve. We’re still managing this deadly pandemic. We need all stakeholders, we need all Guyanese on board.”
Business need to be responsible
The Head-of-State noted that while the government has tried to strike the balance between the economy and managing the pandemic, businesses need to be responsible.
In this regard, he noted that the National COVID-19 Task Force has been advised to pursue charges against owners of establishments that are found in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.
“Businesses must understand that it’s critical for them to adhere to the 40% occupancy, to adhere to the protocols that customers should follow whilst using their establishment and to ensure that they protect their fellow Guyanese brothers and sisters.
“We’ve lost too many lives already. The government is sparing no effort in ensuring that we get vaccinated as quickly as possible but we too, all of us, have a responsibility to help in this process,” the Head-of-State concluded in his address.
Since commencing its vaccination on March 5, 2021, over 25,000 persons have been vaccinated in Guyana.