Vaccination of persons 5-11 years old expected soon
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Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

–as local authorities continue fight against COVID-19

PERSONS aged five to 11 years will soon be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19, according to Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.

SPEAKING during Tuesday’s edition of the COVID-19 update, the Health Minister said local officials are still awaiting final documentation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States, but once those reports are public, a decision would be taken.

Dr Anthony noted, however, that his ministry has been training staff locally on administering doses to children which would be one/third of the dose applied to adults.

Even as the ministry prepares to extend the age of eligibility for vaccination, Dr. Anthony said that persons who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine have not been returning for their second dose.

This is the case even though some 387,505 persons — 75 per cent of the adult population – have been administered the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

With that said, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Dr. Anthony related.

While he noted a decline in COVID-19 cases across the country, he cautioned that the active cases across the country stand at 2,641 which is still a large number.

Explaining the number of cases according to regional distribution, Minister Anthony disclosed that Region Three accounts for 1,100 new cases with areas of interest including Tuschen, Parfaite Harmonie, Pouderoyen, Crane, Parika, Cornelia Ida, Vreed-en-Hoop, Zeelugt, Hague, Leonora, Westminster, Uitvlugt, Anna Catherina, Canal No. 2, La Grange, Goed Fortuin, Stewartville, and Sisters Village.

These villages, the Health Minister said, all account for relatively high clusters of cases.
Despite declining numbers, some communities in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) still remain areas of interest, Dr Anthony stated, adding that these include Kitty, Sophia, Campbellville, and Cummings Lodge.

Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) were also identified in the briefing by the Health Minister as areas of interest with new COVID-19 cases. It was Region 10, however, which Minister Anthony noted there was much concern.

With 72 cases in Wismar and 33 cases in Amelia’s Wards, Minister Anthony said the fact that the vaccination rate in the region remains low, these cases could easily spread. He, however, assured citizens that there is no shortage of vaccines.

Through the COVAX mechanism, Dr Anthony stated, countries are provided with vaccines.
“We are on the fifth call. Not each of the rounds we receive vaccines, but you can schedule when you would like to receive,” he related.

The Health Minister said Guyana will receive more doses in January 2022 and thereafter, but donations are sometimes made by countries in the global north to countries in the global south.

“When vaccines are donated, they have a shorter expiry date, so COVAX would reach out to all countries and find out if we have immediate need for vaccines. If yes, they would send. We have benefitted from this in the past. There is a call right now, and we have to assess whether we should ask for additional vaccines,” the Health Minister said.

Dr Anthony remains confident that there are enough vaccines in Guyana. He urged persons who have received their first dose to return at the recommended time to receive their second dose.

With many persons expected to travel and already concerned about changing vaccine rules globally, Dr Anthony cautioned that for persons who received any of the two-dose vaccines, a person only becomes fully vaccinated 14 days after they have received their second dose.

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