President says low COVID-19 vaccination uptake in Reg. 10 concerning
- hints at procurement of additional vaccines in coming weeks
By Vishani Ragobeer
While Guyana has already administered the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 31 per cent of the targeted adult population, President Irfaan Ali has lamented the low uptake of these vaccines in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
While addressing the nation on Thursday night, President Ali highlighted that eight of Guyana’s 10 administrative regions have been able to vaccinate between 30 to 36 per cent of their population aged 18 years and older, however, in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and Region 10, the vaccination uptake has not been as high.
“In Region 10, only 8.9 per cent of the population above 18 years took the vaccine as of (Thursday),” the Head-of-State lamented.
The low vaccination uptake in Region 10 has been engaging the attention of the local health authorities for some time now. Recognising the need to engage in extensive vaccination education programmes in this region, in a bid to encourage individuals to get vaccinated, interventions have been organised.
On Thursday, however, President Ali reminded the public that the region is the gateway to the interior and as such, residents there could be vulnerable to becoming infected with positive COVID-19 cases imported from Brazil due to illegal border crossings.
It is important to note that Brazil has been devastated by a more recently mutated P1 variant of the deadly coronavirus. Cognisant of this, the President noted that the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) has increased patrols along the border to dissuade illegal crossings.
“We are therefore very concerned about the low acceptance level of the first dose in Region 10.
“I, therefore, appeal to every Guyanese that though not mandatory at this stage, taking the vaccine is the best option we have to save lives and exiting the pandemic.”
Recently, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony highlighted that the local health authorities have been striving for an equitable rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. Addressing the low uptake in Region Eight, Dr Anthony had said that this region has presented some “peculiar challenges” to vaccination rollout teams due to the mountainous geography. Nevertheless, he affirmed that the teams will be continuing their outreach efforts here.
Meanwhile, President Ali, on Thursday night, also hinted that Guyana may be receiving additional sets of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks.
“Within the coming weeks, our plan is to secure enough vaccines to take us to herd immunity… Our plan is to ensure that we take this country and economy back to normalcy as soon as possible,” he said.
Herd immunity will occur once about 80 per cent of the population is immune to the disease. Vaccination is a way of ensuring immunisation. And, to get to this state of herd immunity, the President said that the government would invest the resources needed.
Already, Guyana has been spending US$20 on each dose of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine; this means that a total of US$4M will be expended on this first tranche of component one (or the first dose) of the Sputnik vaccine while plans are in train to secure another 200,000 doses of component two (the second dose needed).
Addressing concerns that the ongoing vaccination rollout has not catered for the provision of the second dose of the three COVID-19 vaccines, President Ali assured each Guyanese that “adequate provisions” were made to ensure this.
“Our planning has carefully ensured that the corresponding second dose is available and will be available to be administered,” he emphasised.
Already, more than 6,000 people have received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines; Guyana is using the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines in its current vaccination campaign.
To move the vaccination campaign further along, President Ali said, “I urge every single leader who took the vaccine or who understands the implication of not taking the vaccines to join in the public education process.”