COME next month, August 2021, Guyana will be expecting a quantity of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine being manufactured by the United States. This acquisition is being pursued by way of an agreement made with the African Union through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.
“We have already paid the African Union to store some Johnson and Johnson vaccine so those would be coming in August,” Dr. Anthony said on Thursday, during his daily COVID-19 update with the Department of Public Information.
It was announced in May that the government would be making a down payment of approximately $7.5 million to the African Union, for 150,000 doses of the vaccine; once they are received, the Johnson and Johnson jabs would be the only single-dose vaccine that Guyana has been able to purchase.
As it is, the country’s robust vaccination programme has comprised of AstraZeneca, China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines, all of which require a booster shot, before being administered with the vaccine.
Dr. Anthony had previously related that once the vaccine arrives, its use would most likely be directed to persons residing in the hinterland regions of Guyana, since many of those communities are more difficult to reach.
It was explained then that when health workers are going into those areas, they have to remove the vaccines from its regional storage facilities, then travel for miles into remote villages to ensure that the vaccines are administered. This tedious exercise would then have to repeat itself a few weeks later, once the second doses of the vaccines are due.
Since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) took office in August 2021, it has embarked on an aggressive vaccination effort, which has so far seen 244, 365 persons receiving their first jabs of the COVID-19 vaccines; this accounts for some 50.2 per cent of Guyana’s entire adult population. As it is, some 129, 361 persons have been fully immunised with both doses of the vaccines; this represents 26.6 per cent of the country’s adult population.
Dr. Anthony in his update said that Guyana currently has available, both doses of the AstraZeneca and the Sinopharm vaccines; however, it is awaiting the arrival of another shipment of the second doses of the Sputnik V. Notwithstanding this, the first jabs of the same vaccines continue to be administered. “Once we get those, we will roll it out, but we expect that once we get it, we would be able to have a continuous supply,” Dr. Anthony posited.
Even amid the challenges, Guyana has one of the most robust COVID-19 vaccination programmes in the region.