Gov’t still to procure special children’s Pfizer vaccine
By Vishani Ragobeer
The local health authorities remain interested in vaccinating children aged five to 11 to protect them from the novel coronavirus and efforts are being made to secure special vaccines from the United States of America (USA) through a CARICOM arrangement.
This is according to the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony who was responding to questions from the News Room during his daily COVID-19 update earlier this week.
Guyana had planned to start administering a special Pfizer vaccine to children in this age category on November 19, 2021 but since the country was unable to secure this special dose, the vaccination of the children has been delayed.
Now in January 2022, Dr. Anthony said that securing the vaccine for this age group continues to be a challenge.
“That generally is only available in the United States and there is some difficulty trying to get it in other countries but nevertheless we are trying to see if we can get that,” he said.
What the government is banking on is an arrangement with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), wherein a bulk of the vaccines would be procured and distributed to the various Caribbean countries.
Guyana has already indicated its desired portion and once CARICOM manages to secure those supplies, the country should be able to start vaccinating the younger children.
It is not yet clear how soon these vaccines will be secured and the Health Minister noted that there is a high global demand for the special vaccines and many countries have already put in their orders.
Children aged five to 11 years old require two Pfizer doses that measure about 10 micrograms. Comparatively, the older children (those aged 12 to 18) and adults receive doses that measure about 30 micrograms.
According to reports, these doses have to be mixed with certain amounts of saline before they are administered to both the children and adults. Once mixed, 0.2 millilitres (mL) dose is administered.
And to ensure that the required dosage for children aged five to 11 (10 micrograms) is not mixed up with the dosage administered to adults, the Pfizer Company has introduced a different vaccine packaging- that is, there is a unique label and different cap colour.
Importantly, this is the same Pfizer vaccine that is being administered to adults but just a different portion.
And though the Health Minister believes that local health workers can dilute the vaccine for use in children, he emphasises that doing so is not advisable.
“… that’s why we have gone to the manufacturer’s standard,” he posited.