Gov’t mulls compulsory vaccination to curb COVID-19 situation
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Nurse Edoll Ainsworth places a plaster on the arm of Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)’s Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey, after he received a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal (Vishani Ragobeer photo)
Nurse Edoll Ainsworth places a plaster on the arm of Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)’s Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey, after he received a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal (Vishani Ragobeer photo)

– Dr. Ramsammy says widespread vaccination, not lockdown, will allow exit of pandemic

THE local health authorities are considering whether the COVID-19 vaccination should be made mandatory, since vaccines are seen as the tool that will enable countries to exit the pandemic and circumvent the challenges raised by those who breach the COVID-19 guidelines and allow for the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Saturday, following reports that there have been nine COVID-19 related deaths that were not confirmed nor reported before, Health Adviser in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, lamented that people have not been adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines and as such, have contributed to the spread of the virus.

“I think if we continue to ignore the public health advice and go out without our masks and go into large gatherings, etcetera, more people will get infected,” Dr. Ramsammy told the Sunday Chronicle.

With the discovery of the deadly coronavirus in Guyana last March, large public gatherings have been prohibited and a social distance of six feet was encouraged. The prohibition and distancing, among other measures, were instituted since the interaction of people would be conducive to the spread of the virus from person to person.

But there have been numerous reports of people breaching these guidelines and being arrested by members of the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF). More recently, Dr. Ramsammy said that Guyana was experiencing a third wave of the virus wherein the virus is more transmissible and it is deadlier.

“In spite of the warning that the virus circulating now is a more dangerous virus, more deadly, we seem to have a thing that we are immune to it and we are not going to be infected by the virus,” Dr. Ramsammy said.

However, in a bid to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana has introduced an aggressive vaccination campaign, whereby all adults are eligible for one of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered locally. Vaccination is not compulsory in Guyana, but Dr. Ramsammy related that making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory is “on the table.”

“We haven’t made a decision,” Dr, Ramsammy said, adding: “We don’t want to make it mandatory.”

Dr. Ramsammy said that it is expected that about 160,000 people would receive at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Saturday. That would equate to about 33 per cent of the targeted 500,000 adult population. But there has been an unequal uptake of these vaccines. In Regions Eight and 10, vaccinations have been fewer than in other regions. Vaccination, according to Dr. Ramsammy, is the exit strategy for the pandemic and not necessarily imposing a lockdown.

“We have to enforce more public health measures. We have to use the same energy that we have to use for lockdown; we have to use that same energy for people coming to take their vaccines and if we take our vaccines, we will bring some control about,” Dr. Ramsammy underscored.

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