AS the Government of Guyana continues to push for citizens to be vaccinated against the deadly COVID-19 virus, they have set a target for 70 per cent of the country to be fully inoculated by the end of April 2022.
This was disclosed by adviser to the Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy, during a vaccination event organised by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., on Saturday, at Annandale, East Coast Demerara.
“I am hoping that by the end of March that 60 per cent of the Guyanese population are fully vaccinated. Our target is that 70 per cent of our population by the end of April are fully vaccinated,” Dr Ramsammy said.
Dr Ramsammy, who served as Guyana’s Health Minister for many years, was adamant that the government intends for Guyana to be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to fully vaccinate 40 per cent of the population by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022.
“Some people say that’s an impossible target; I don’t think impossible should be in the lexicon of our thinking. I think it is for our benefit that we can save lives, it is the option of everyone whether they want it or not, but I think it would be a reckless decision not to take it [the vaccine],” the former Health Minister said.
According to the latest COVID-19 statistics as provided by the Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony during his COVID-19 update on Friday last, at the end of Thursday last 59.1 per cent of the adult population and 30.9 per cent of the adolescent population have been fully inoculated against the disease.
This represents 303,373 adults and 22,309 adolescents who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. A person is only fully vaccinated if they receive both doses of a vaccine.
On the other hand, the Health Minister disclosed that 416,994 adults and 31,525 adolescents have received their first doses of one of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Guyana. This means 81.3 per cent of the country’s adult population and 43.2 per cent of its adolescent population have received their first shots of a COVID-19 “jab.”
As Guyana continues to see a spike in the number of recorded COVID-19 cases, which is suspected to be due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, the government has also been pushing for persons to take their ‘booster jab’ – the latest statistics show that 24,509 persons have done so.
“We see the surge in COVID cases and I believe that surge has catalysed the new surge in vaccination and I’m glad that people are looking at the news, seeing the surge in COVID cases and have decided we can’t hesitate no more let’s go and take the vaccine,” Dr Ramsammy added.
The Guyana Government has made available the AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines available for its citizens.
With the exception of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, for persons to be considered fully vaccinated with the available vaccines, namely, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sputnik V and Pfizer, they must get both doses.
Dr Ramsammy highlighted that Guyana has enough vaccines for first doses, second doses and booster shots for children between the ages of five to 11, adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 and all adults over the age of 18.
“This is one of the handful of developing countries that actually have enough vaccines for all of the eligible population groups; which means from five years old to the oldest citizen in this country, we have enough vaccines,” he said.
Nandlall, who represents the East Coast of Demerara in Parliament, collaborated with the Ministry of Health to host the vaccination drive at Annandale, due to the spike of COVID-19 infections after the Christmas season.
“It is important that we continue these public engagements and we continue to encourage our citizens to take the vaccines and to take the booster shots and to make it as convenient as possible for them to have access to this type of medical care and medical facilities,” Nandlall said.