Frontline workers vaccinated as Guyana begins immunisation against COVID-19
The Health Ministry on Thursday commenced the distribution of the first doses of the Covidshield- AstraZeneca vaccines to frontline health-care workers in Guyana.
A pharmacist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital, Brinnet Bernarai was first to receive the vaccine which was administered by Nurse Vidya Etwaru.
In addition to Bernarai, the remaining frontline workers attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown will receive the vaccine.
Among the recipients was Dr Fawcett Jeffrey, Director of Medical and Professional Services (MPS) at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). His jab was administered by Nurse Edoll Ainsworth at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, where at the end of the day, 317 doses were distributed.
After receiving the vaccine, Dr Jeffrey told Guyana Times that the shot would protect himself and others he interacted with on a daily basis.
“Taking the vaccine wasn’t painful. It was like any other little stick … and you would have noticed that I took the vaccine and I’m still standing. So, it, therefore, means it’s not detrimental,” he explained.
Medical Registrar Dave Persaud who has been working at the COVID-19 ICU unit for the past nine months also received his shot after which he stated that working at the facility has definitely been challenging as he has witnessed many patients succumbing to the virus.
As such, he has accepted the vaccine in an effort to safeguard himself as he continues to perform his duties.
He too expressed that the vaccination process was painless and further urged his colleagues and the general public to be receptive when their time came to receive the shot.
“In my view, it’s a game-changer and is certainly lifesaving… Now to additionally have a vaccine, hopefully, this would help to curb the pandemic and specifically in our case Guyana,” Persaud expressed.
Meanwhile, Dr Tracey Bovell expressed that she was also grateful to be among the group of health-care workers to take the vaccine.
“If I am to say one thing, it is to ensure you get vaccinated, because that is your contribution to flattening the curve.”
She, however, urged that persons should continue to follow all COVID-19 guidelines despite the vaccine becoming available in Guyana.
“You still have to use your face covering, avoid crowds. Wash your hands, sanitise your hands, ensure that you always protect yourself,” Dr Bovell stressed.
In relation to the deployment of the vaccine, Dr Ertenisa Hamilton, Director of Primary Health Care, explained that vaccination would be done in waves.
“According to our National Vaccine Deployment Plan, our priority groups would be health-care workers, our Joint Services and other frontline workers, our elderly, and persons with comorbidities,” Dr Hamilton explained.
She noted that with the small number of vaccines currently available in Guyana, the goal is to vaccinate as many health-care workers who are in direct contact with patients that have COVID-19, followed by the vaccination of the other priority groups as more vaccines are procured.
“This marks the beginning of the turnaround of this pandemic in Guyana, because our intention is to ensure we reach herd immunity,” Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony posited.
He further explained that herd immunity is only possible if at least 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated. He noted that the immunisation programme began at the Georgetown Public Hospital, because it has served many infected persons.
He further urged the media to assist with putting forward the information surrounding vaccination to prepare and educate the population as the Government continued to secure more vaccines.
The vaccination programme began following the receipt of 100,000 doses of the Covidshield-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday from Barbados. The vaccine is taken in two doses with the second dose being administered eight to 12 weeks after the first.
These vaccines will be administered to some 1400 frontline health workers while the CARICOM Secretariat will use 200 doses to vaccinate 100 persons.