With Guyana receiving its first donation pledge of 20,000 COVID-19 vaccines from China, President Irfaan Ali has assured that each Guyanese will get to choose whether they want to be vaccinated when the immunization drive commences.
He has also assured that while Guyana remains on the waiting list of several distributing countries and agencies, any vaccine to be administered here will be safe, having been fully approved by the World Health Organization/ Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO).
In addition to China, Guyana is also in talks with Indian and Russia on sourcing COVID-19 vaccines. During an address to the nation from State House on Saturday, Dr. Ali said Guyana remains a part of the global competition to access vaccines. He said the objective is to get a vaccine for Guyanese as soon as possible so as to ensure that as many Guyanese as possible are vaccinated before the end of 2021.
Dr. Ali said he will be the first to demonstrate by signing on to the vaccination programme.
“The population will get to decide if they want the vaccine or not. It is not mandatory, but I encourage everyone to take it,” he added.
Dr. Ali said it was an important part of building immunity which forms a critical component in addressing and fighting the pandemic. He also assured that all vaccines will be free for the citizens of Guyana.
“No resources will be spared and no stone will be left unturned…we are aggressively pursuing every avenue through which we can expeditiously get vaccines and make them available,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, maintains that Guyana’s main focus for procuring COVID-19 vaccines is through the COVAX facility.
COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the WHO, the European Commission and France in response to the pandemic. It strives to ensure that people in all corners of the world get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
Already, the Guyana Government is looking to close a gap in the country’s vaccination law that addresses adult vaccination ahead of the countrywide rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine. Guyana only has laws that address vaccination for children; no law was ever put in place for the vaccination of adults.
Training is also ongoing to ensure that medical personnel are trained on safe administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.