Revaccination a possibility as gov’t mulls several solutions for int’l travel restrictions


By Vishani Ragobeer

Some countries, including the United States (US), will require travellers to be fully vaccinated with specific COVID-19 vaccines before entry and cognisant of this, Advisor to the Health Ministry Dr. Leslie Ramsammy says that the government is exploring several solutions, including possible revaccination of people.

In the US, Canada and United Kingdom (UK), the accepted COVID-19 vaccines are the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The US is expected to accept the Sinopharm vaccine also.

But, President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Gaston Browne have urged countries not to become divided based on the type of vaccines administered to citizens. They both made these calls during their respective addresses to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Still, some people have expressed concerns that being vaccinated with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine might limit their ability to travel freely. Dr. Rammsamy acknowledges that this is a “genuine concern” but emphasised that the government is exploring a myriad of solutions to this issue.

“…Take the immediate step of protecting yourself (with the vaccine) and in terms of other restrictions that you might see in the future, the Government of Guyana will provide that solution,” Dr. Ramsammy urged during an interview with the News Room on Wednesday.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Advisor to the Ministry of Health (Photo: News Room/ March 16, 2021)

When asked specifically about revaccination with an accepted vaccine, Dr. Ramsammy answered, “When I say there are solutions to the problem, those are some of the things that I am talking about.”

He could not reveal what are the solutions being explored by the government, however.

Revaccination refers to getting vaccinated with another COVID-19 vaccine even though you are already fully vaccinated. Before these travel requirements were announced, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said that this revaccination is not necessary – from a medical perspective – since being fully vaccinated with any vaccine would already offer the necessary protection.

But, it is not only about being medically protected from COVID-19. With the travel requirements instituted, becoming revaccinated with a vaccine recognised by the travel destination would permit free movement.

Even so, Dr. Ramsammy said that indeed, the priority should be the protection of lives. And, he emphasised that the Sputnik V vaccine, or any of the other vaccines used locally, will help to protect people from the deadly COVID-19.

“There is no point in us planning to travel to some exotic place or to America or wherever sometime in the near future if we are not going to be alive.

“So today, the priority for each one of us must be to protect ourselves maximally and the answer to that is to take the vaccine that is available now,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ramsammy urged people to come forward and get both doses of their COVID-19 vaccines so that they would have the necessary protection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, COVID-19.

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