First Pfizer-vaccinated teens urge colleagues to take ‘COVID jab’
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Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, observes as 15-year-old Ramon Cummings, prepares to take his first dose of the American-manufactured Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on Thursday (Delano Williams Photo)
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, observes as 15-year-old Ramon Cummings, prepares to take his first dose of the American-manufactured Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on Thursday (Delano Williams Photo)

–over 200 children inoculated on first day of Pfizer vaccine rollout in Guyana

THE first set of teenagers to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have urged their colleagues to follow suit and take the ‘jab,’ in order to guard against the debilitating effects of COVID-19. Those persons received the vaccine on Thursday, during the rollout of the government’s vaccination programme which targets children ages 12 to 18 years, at the St. Stanislaus College. During an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, 15-year-old Ramon Cummings, the first male teenager to be administered the American-manufactured Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine locally, expressed his support for the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that it will enable students to return school. He said that while the vaccines are instrumental in the reopening of schools, it has a greater impact on individual lives. For this reason, he charged other persons to get vaccinated. “Please get vaccinated, it is not only about you, but about your family and the community,” Cummings said.
The student said he is excited to return to school for face-to-face learning when the new academic school year begins on September 6, 2021.
He related that returning to a classroom setting after being away from physical schooling for more than a year might feel a bit strange, but he is optimistic that everyone will adjust quickly, especially if they guard themselves against COVID-19 by taking the vaccine.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, watches on as 12-year-old Danah Shiwgobin receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at St. Stanislaus College, on Thursday (Delano Williams photo)

On Tuesday, the government received 146,250 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This specific vaccine is earmarked for children ages 12 to 18 years.
The Pfizer vaccine, on Monday, became the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
The batch of Pfizer vaccines given to Guyana is part of a donation of 5.5 million doses from the United States Government to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). This donation is intended to lend support to the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Danah Shiwgobin, who was the first child to receive a ‘jab’ of the Pfizer vaccine, encouraged other children to get vaccinated.
She said that she decided to get vaccinated because, in her view, vaccination is the best line of defense against the COVID-19 virus.
The 12-year-old, in encouraging other children to take a similar step and protect themselves, said: “Go ahead, for it is the only solution right now.”

Daniel Shiwgobin, who is a sixth-form student at St. Stanislaus College, said that he believes getting the vaccine is what is needed to reopen schools and offer school-aged children a “close to normal life” during this period of the world’s history.
He encouraged other children who are contemplating taking the vaccine to do their research and educate themselves on the facts regarding the vaccines.
“If you’re hesitant, I suggest you go and do your own research. Consult your family members, your friends, even your doctor; all the information is there and it’s easy to access and I am sure after doing research you will get any doubt out of the way,” Shiwgobin said.
The Ministry of Health had informed the Education Ministry that to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, all students, ages 12 to 18 years, should be vaccinated before returning to the classrooms.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, on Thursday, said that while parents have the option to choose whether they want their children to be vaccinated, inoculation is the best defence against the deadly effects of the COVID-19 virus.
The Ministry of Education in early August began sending out consent forms to parents of over 50,000 students in secondary schools. The Ministry of Health managed to vaccinate 213 students on the first day of the Pfizer vaccine rollout.
“We cannot prevaricate on positions; the science and the medicine are clear. The world has decided based on evidence regarding previous diseases that vaccination and inoculation are the only ways to get past this virus. We are no longer talking about getting past the virus to come into schools, we’re talking about getting past the virus so that you can live; that is where we are at now,” Minister Manickchand said.
Although the target group for this vaccination initiative is children who will be returning to school, Minister Manickchand reminded that it is not limited to them.

She said all children ages 12 to 18 years, who obtain permission from their parents or legal guardians, would be able to receive the vaccine.
“This is not a vaccine only for school children, it is a vaccine that will be administered by the Ministry of Health to any child between the ages of 12 and 18, regardless of if they are in school or which school they are in,” Minister Manickchand said.
Working simultaneously with the Ministry of Education to prepare for the reopening of schools, is the Ministry of Health.
Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, said that while the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine received by the government is only being administered to children ages 12 to 18 years, clinical trials are currently ongoing in the United States to determine the effects of the vaccine on children, 12 years and under.
Minister Anthony spoke of the importance of vaccination and achieving herd immunity not just to reopening schools and returning to normalcy, but also to protect the lives of all citizens in the country, inclusive of children.

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