Children have started receiving their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines since it has been 21 days since the first set of the Pfizer vaccines were administered to children at the St. Stanislaus College at Brickdam, Georgetown.
Danah Shiwgobin, a 12-year-old student of the college, was the first child to get vaccinated in Guyana on August 26. On Thursday, she returned to her school to get the second dose that would allow her to be fully immunised against COVID-19.
“When I first heard about it, rumours and so made me feel a little concerned about it, but when I took the first dose, I didn’t experience any side-effects or anything (and) I realised that the vaccine is actually okay and I didn’t need to be scared of it,” Shiwgobin told the News Room on Thursday.
These Pfizer vaccines are exclusively available to children aged 12 years and older, since this is the age group that the vaccine has received emergency use authorisation for. The second dose is administered 21 days after the first.
Additionally, like many of her colleagues, once fully vaccinated, Shiwgobin would be able to return to school for face-to-face classes.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an extended closure of schools and a shift to online learning, but Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony had explained that secondary schools can reopen once the students are fully vaccinated.
Shiwgobin said, “I’m actually excited to return to school because I think online classes (are) a little too distracting…with face-to-face I feel like I can concentrate some more.”
Beyond the distractions of online learning, the education minister said on Wednesday that about 1,000 children in primary schools have dropped out, illustrating the worrying learning losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools.
Public health nurse Iona Barker-Wickham was responsible for overseeing the administration of the vaccines on Thursday and administering vaccines herself.
At around 10:30hrs, she told the News Room that more than 50 vaccine doses had already been administered; these included about 40 of the Pfizer second doses and some first doses.
Nurse Barker-Wickam explained: “When you have the first dose, you need to have the second dose to back you up so that your immunity would be at a certain level where you can fight off diseases.”
Importantly, too, the nurse said that if parents missed the opportunity to bring their children to get the second dose of the vaccines, they can visit the MovieTowne Mall at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, on Saturday where another vaccination drive-thru event will be held.
Following the start of the children’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign in August, nearly 2,000 children received their first dose of the vaccine at a drive-thru event held at the mall.
It is expected that those children will be able to access their second doses on Saturday.