WITH three health ministry-affiliated workers currently before the courts for allegedly forging government-issued COVID-19 vaccination booklets, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, warned that persons found guilty would be removed from the Ministry of Health.
Speaking during his daily COVID-19 briefing, the health minister said he is aware there are persons who have been arrested in connection with forging vaccination booklets and commended the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for their investigations.
Maintaining the presumption of innocence guaranteed to persons under the law, the Minister said if persons are found guilty, “they would not be working with the ministry anymore”.
“It is unfortunate that nurses who were placed in a position of trust to administer these vaccines and make sure that the process goes smoothly, have chosen to breach that trust and sell the vaccination cards,” Dr Anthony added.
The health minister said nurses are governed by specific laws which empower the nursing council and being found guilty of such an offence would be a breach of professional conduct.
“We would be taking stringent actions by sending this information to the nursing council for them to act upon because we cannot have nurses who are found in break like this; it runs counter to the profession,” he reasoned.
Concerns were raised in the public about the frequency of persons purchasing COVID-19 vaccination booklets to access public buildings which require those booklets as a primary condition for entry.
Where persons do not have booklets, they are sometimes required to present results from a COVID-19 test that proves they tested negative for the deadly virus.
The health authorities have impressed the need for persons to get vaccinated to increase the chances of herd immunity in the country and ultimately reduce the mortality rate of the virus.
Just a few days ago, Guyana recorded the 1000th COVID-19-related death with that number continuing to climb, although minimally, every day. The health minister said in his update there is a good uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among the adult population in Guyana.
The challenge has been, however, that persons primarily between the ages of 18 to 39 years, which Dr Anthony identified in previous briefings as a particularly active demographic group, have not returned for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.
“If you only get one dose of the vaccine, it is not going to give you that protection,” the health minister warned as he urged persons to complete their vaccine dosage to be fully protected.
Dr Anthony said a similar low vaccination trend is noticed among adolescents and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
For this group, the health minister disclosed: “The first dose is still lagging behind… at 40.5 per cent [of the total population of that group] and [the] second dose is at 28.4 per cent. So, we really need to do a lot more work here”.
Dr Anthony called on parents, teachers, and influential persons in communities to encourage young people to take their vaccines. He noted that if an adolescent or teen does not attend school, they can still present themselves at a vaccination centre to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.