President Dr. Irfaan Ali says that Guyana has spared no effort or resources in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines for its eligible population but he lamented that political mischief is threatening Guyana’s fight against the disease which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide.
According to the President, Guyana rolled out a national immunisation development plan in preparation for the arrival of life-saving vaccines. With this, he said that the local health authorities worked towards adding cold storage capacity, training healthcare staff to administer the vaccines and establishing a monitoring committee for possible vaccine side-effects.
And to date, Guyana has been able to administer at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 350,182 adults (or 68.3 per cent of the targeted adult population). Additionally, some 180,922 adults (35.3 per cent of the population) have received both vaccine doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.
Importantly, too, more than 21,000 children have received their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and resultantly, have an extra layer of protection against the coronavirus.
But, Dr. Ali lamented that the vaccine hesitancy experienced all around the world has been worsened in Guyana by “political mischief”.
“…vaccine hesitancy and its manipulation for the purposes of political mischief are conspiring to hobble our movement towards herd immunity,” President Ali said in a message to the White House COVID-19 summit convened by US President Joseph Biden.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. And, reasons for this hesitancy include misinformation, concerns over the safety of the vaccines and complacency.
Earlier this year, the Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon questioned the authenticity of the Sputnik V vaccines and called for them to be put on hold. These vaccines make up the bulk of Guyana’s adult COVID-19 immunisation rollout.
More recently, many people have protested the recently instituted COVID-19 vaccination requirements that prevent unvaccinated people from accessing most buildings unless they present a recent negative PCR COVID-19 test result. These requirements have been deemed as “forceful” and the protests against the requirements have been supported by the APNU+AFC opposition.
But, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony called on leaders to put aside the politics and instead, work towards saving lives.
“I think it’s imperative that all the different bodies whether it is civil society, trade unions, even the political parties, come together and encourage people to get vaccinated and don’t just pay lip service to this thing,” the Minister said in an invited comment to the News Room recently.
President Ali, too, has called on people to put aside the politics and get vaccinated.