Religious leaders, toshaos continue to spread misinformation on COVID vaccines – Dr Anthony

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Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony says that the government continues to battle vaccine hesitancy and misinformation relating to COVID-19, especially in hinterland communities, which he believes is being fuelled by religious leaders and toshaos.

“Some of the leaders in the communities, it might be a mixture of the toshaos or sometimes in other cases you might have other religious leaders who are peddling his type of misinformation.

“They are not doing their communities a good service, they are actually putting their communities at risk and we would really want to encourage them to desist from doing this,” Dr Anthony said in his daily COVID-19 update on Monday.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony

And in an effort to tackle this issue, the government now plans to place at least two health workers at health centres in all communities.

“Part of the curriculum would be to go into the community, talk about vaccination, the importance of it and give people factual information,” Dr Anthony.

According to the Health Minister, due to the misinformation being peddled by these groups of people, vaccines have gone to waste. He explained that once the vaccines are removed from cold storage, they have to be utilised because it cannot go back into storage.

“Once you start doing that, there is no going back, you cannot refreeze it.

“In some cases, we have gone to communities…of 300 and after spending a day or so there, you probably get about four or five people coming forward,” Dr Anthony explained.

This is happening in “problematic” regions such as Regions One, Seven, Eight, and Nine.

But this is only happening in certain communities in these regions, Dr Anthony clarified.

“These are anti-vaxxers, they don’t believe in the benefits of the vaccine and they have been constantly undermining the message from the Ministry of Health and other health authorities.”

Guyana started its COVID vaccination campaign in February 2021 and thus far, 83.9 per cent of the adult population have received their first dose and 63.4 per cent have received their second dose.

In August 2021, the vaccine rollout for children aged 12 to 17 began with 45.7 per cent receiving their first dose and 32.9 per cent receiving their second dose.

Four months later, in December 2021, the government began administering booster doses and thus far, a total of 48, 669 persons have taken them.

Below is a regional breakdown of booster shots administered thus far:

Region One (977)

Region Two (2, 342)

Region Three (6, 842)

Region Four (24, 344)

Region Five (3, 018)

Region Six (8, 028)

Region Seven (481)

Region Eight (399)

Region Nine (1, 755)

Region Ten (483)

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