High turnout at ‘COVID’ vaccination ‘drive-thru’
Scores of vehicles in the COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara (EBD). In the second photo, Denish Bisessar takes his first jab while sitting comfortably in his vehicle (Delano Williams photos)
Scores of vehicles in the COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara (EBD). In the second photo, Denish Bisessar takes his first jab while sitting comfortably in his vehicle (Delano Williams photos)

– Guyanese laud initiative

SCORES of persons turned up on Saturday at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara to be administered their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, during the novel and innovative ‘drive thru’ vaccination site which seeks to make the vaccination more accessible and convenient.

Even though the event was scheduled to be held from 9:00hrs to 21:00hrs, when the Sunday Chronicle visited the scene on Saturday morning, it was already being hailed a “success” by Region Four (Demerara – Mahaica) Regional Health Officer, Dr. Gavinash Persaud, who reported that some 200 persons were already vaccinated within the first two hours of the event commencing.

Nerissa Thornhill after receiving her first vaccine dose against the COVID-19 virus at the ‘drive thru’ event (Delano Williams photo)

The process of receiving either the first or second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Russian-manufactured Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘drive thru’ began with persons entering the first entrance of the national stadium (heading in the southern direction) and then turning right onto the stadium tarmac.

Drivers then make their way through a series of tents; there were three lanes – two lanes for persons receiving their first dose and one lane for persons receiving their second dose. Those who ventured down either of the first two lanes were required to stop at the first tent to complete the necessary paperwork and then to the second tent where the shot was administered.

For persons taking the second shot, they travelled straight to the third lane and were only required to present themselves to one tent, where the shot was administered upon presentation of their COVID-19 immunisation booklet and their identification (ID) card.

Persons who received either their first or second dose were then required to wait for a 15-minute observation period to monitor if they exhibit any reactions to the vaccine.

Renie Khemraj receiving his ‘jab’ against COVID-19 on his motorcycle at the ‘drive thru’ event (Delano Williams photo)

Many of the vaccinated persons lauded the initiative, noting how convenient it was.

Ariel Khan, 23, originally of Bartica but currently residing at Better Hope, East Coast Demerara, told the Sunday Chronicle that she only had to wait approximately 10 minutes in the line from the time she entered the national stadium tarmac before she got the vaccine.

“It was a smooth transition to get registered and all of that, to get the vaccine, I really liked it. I think this process works; I think the drive through process works instead of persons having to park, get out of their car, line up and all of that. This works, it works for all of the Guyanese on the go,” Khan said.

The ‘drive thru’ was not restricted to a specific type of vehicle, and persons even turned up on their motorcycles to receive the jab. One such person is Renie Khemraj, who was pleased that the government contemplated the initiative.

“It was real fast and cool, you didn’t had to go line up nowhere, you just go and get vaccinated in your car or on your bike, was real amazing,” he said.

Nerissa Thornhill, 44, of Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara, told the Sunday Chronicle that she chose the ‘drive thru’ event for the convenience. She explained that her experience was “very pleasant” and receiving the ‘jab’ “did not hurt one bit.”

Meanwhile, Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, who was present at the event, highlighted the importance of innovative ideas in the vaccination campaign, noting that this will ensure people have access to the vaccine to protect themselves against the deadly virus.

“I think it’s important that we have activities like this, because we recognise that vaccination is not a stationary activity but we have to be able to be flexible enough to meet the needs of the people around the country,” Dr. Hamilton said.

The first lane of traffic at the ‘drive thru’ event (Delano Williams photo)

“We are working towards herd immunity, so that means we have to go wherever the vaccination process takes us and we have to do whatever it takes us to ensure the people of Guyana remains protected,” she added.

Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Four, Dr. Gavinash Persaud, told reporters that his team analysed the low vaccination rates in certain localities, especially Region Four, which has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, and as such, the ‘drive thru’ initiative was crafted to make vaccines more accessible.

Additionally, Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, applauded the initiative.

“We have thought about this idea where people can, just in the comfort of their vehicle, drive up, they would get someone come to the vehicle, take their information, then you drive to the next station and get your vaccine. So, we have thought about it and I am happy that it is working so effectively because, as of this morning [Saturday], we see a steady flow of vehicles which is a really good thing,” he said.

The Health Minister explained that this first ‘drive thru’ event serves as a pilot activity to test whether similar initiatives can be implemented throughout the country.

Persons who do not have access to a vehicle can still be vaccinated at these events.


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