COVID: Vaccination extremely low; people not getting tested – Health Minister

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The Ministry of Health has recorded zero COVID-19 vaccination between Good Friday to now because no one visited any of the vaccination sites across the country, the subject minister Dr Frank Anthony revealed on Tuesday.

“Over the Easter holiday, we didn’t do much vaccination and that’s because people weren’t coming to any of our vaccination sites, so from Good Friday to now, we’ve had basically zero vaccination,” Dr Anthony said in his daily COVID-19 update.

As it is currently, a total of 439, 205 adults (85.6 per cent) have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while a total of 338,303 (66 per cent) have received their second dose.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony.

As it relates to adolescents, 34,416 persons (47.2 per cent) between the ages of 12 and 17 received their first dose while 27,166 (34.5 per cent) received their second dose.

“There is a lot more work to be done with this age group. Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing about 100 to 200 vaccinations per day and that includes both first and second does.

“So, that’s pretty low and these numbers have been stagnant for quite a while and I am hoping that with school reopening shortly, that more parents would give permission for their child to get vaccinated,” the Health Minister contended.

In an effort to boost its vaccination, the Health Ministry is in discussion with the Education Ministry to promote some school-based vaccination programmes.

This programme will see the ministry sending vaccinators to schools but before this happens, parents first need to give the authorities permission for their children to get vaccinated.

PEOPLE NOT GETTING TESTED

There are currently 103 active COVID-19 cases across the country – a low number compared to several months ago – but the Health Minister says this is only so because people are not getting tested.

“Right now, persons are not coming forward to be tested so we’re not doing a lot of tests and therefore the numbers might look artificially low so we have to be careful,” Dr Anthony cautioned.

In the last 24-hours, only ten new cases were recorded and six persons are hospitalised. But the Health Minister emphasised that people still need to exercise caution.

“We have to be cautious because we know in other countries in the region, they’ve started to see a spike in cases. While most of the cases are not severe, they are still cases, so we have to be careful.”

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony noted that several training sessions were conducted with healthcare workers to help them better counteract myths with facts as it relates to vaccine hesitancy.

Most of this training was done in Regions 2, 7, 8 and 10 where there is a low uptake of COVID-19 jabs.

“The understanding is, if our healthcare workers and other stakeholders better understand the reasons why people should be vaccinated, they can become champions of getting people to be vaccinated because we’ve trained a lot of civil society organizations as well…and we’re hoping that they can talk to people and help to organize these vaccine drives,” Dr Anthony contended.

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