HEALTH Minister Dr Frank Anthony announced on Monday that COVID-19 booster shots are now available for all adults.
This is a reversal of previous health ministry guidelines which established criteria for who can access COVID-19 booster shots.
With the Christmas season already here, family and other types of gatherings could result in a spike of COVID-19 cases.
“We have to be careful as we go forward during the Holiday season with how we interact with each other. We will have a lot of cases… and these are persons who have been confirmed with a COVID-19 test,” Dr Anthony said during his daily COVID-19 press briefing.
Dr Anthony cautioned there are persons who have milder forms of the COVID-19 virus who would not have been tested because they have not presented symptoms.
This, he said, means there are persons who could be exposed to COVID-19 once they are exposed to persons who do not know they have the virus.
The potential of death is high for persons with underlying conditions who are exposed to these persons who have not tested, do not show symptoms but have COVID-19, the Health Minister reasoned.
Guyana recorded 57 new cases as of December 5, Dr Anthony confirmed. The majority of these cases are in Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica).
He asked for persons to be cautious in how they meet with their friends and family as they should continue to wear their mask and practice physical distancing. “If we don’t, these gains that we’ve made over the last couple of weeks can be quickly eroded and you can see new cases coming up, new hospitalizations, and new deaths,” Dr Anthony continued.
Guyana has administered over 738,000 COVID-19 vaccines. These include booster shots. “Those persons who received their second dose but now we are almost six months after the second dose, they can come back and get a booster,” Dr Anthony said.
The concern shared by Guyana’s Health Minister was also shared by the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne during a virtual press conference last month on the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Our region witnessed a large jump in new cases following last year’s holiday season. And it took months for countries to reduce the incidents of new cases,” Dr Etienne lamented during that press conference.
She said we now have more tools to protect ourselves from the virus as she urged persons to get vaccinated and to observe COVID-19 emergency measures including wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings.
“These vaccines have helped to lower the hospital bed occupancy,” the PAHO Director added further.