Persons will be monitored after taking COVID-19 vaccine – Health Minister

…alert system in place to detect unauthorised vaccines

Administration of the COVID-19 vaccines recently commenced in Guyana and after persons took their shots, monitoring commenced as part of the Health Ministry’s mandate to have a successful rollout.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony indicated during a forum on Saturday that there will be daily and weekly reporting of vaccine coverage across the country, as the programme expands. For now, healthcare workers are the first to benefit, followed by the elderly and persons with comorbidities.
After the first dose is administered, a vaccination card will be given with the date to return for the second jab. After receiving the doses, monitoring occurs for any minor symptoms which may appear.
Dr Anthony highlighted that they have established a National COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force along with a technical working group, facilitating discussions on the types of vaccines that are available. This will ensure that there is an efficient mechanism to deploy vaccines to the different regions. He noted that the national vaccination deployment plan, recommended by COVAX, has already been completed and has been submitted to the body for review.
The Minister assured that these vaccines are “really good” and will especially prevent persons from contracting a worse form of the virus. In the past, a subset of persons who would have contracted the coronavirus had been put on ventilators after showing severe symptoms.
Since vaccines are temperature sensitive and can lose their potency if stored incorrectly, mechanisms are already in place to ensure that it is effective when administered.
Meanwhile, Director of the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department, Dr Marlan Cole said his agency has an alert system to ensure that only vaccines that are authorised are being used.
Through the Pan American Health Organisation, they have been alerted of three unauthorised vaccine usage in Mexico. He said there are mechanisms to detect when vaccines are falsified or unauthorised. Only the Ministry of Health has been given approval to administer the vaccine.
Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr Ertinesa Hamilton also gave some clarity on immunity, sharing that it refers to the ability of a multicellular organism to protect itself from harmful organisms.
Vaccines are part of active immunity and some normal side effects include swelling, redness, fever, headaches and feeling tired. She said this is since the body is mimicking the vaccine so the person will have a reduced activity mimicking the effects of the virus. It teaches our bodies to trigger an immune response to the spike proteins on the coronavirus and make antibodies.
Herd immunity is whereby a lot of persons are vaccinated so the disease cannot spread very far. It allows containment so that the population can stay safe and Guyana is aiming for this achievement.
With new variants emerging, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh noted that the mutation of a virus is expected to occur over time. This may affect the transmissibility, replication frequency, viral load or protection from immunity. By January, there were 300,000 variants of the coronavirus but less than five are of clinical significance.
Guyanese officials are concerned over two variants emerging in Brazil, and he noted that monitoring will continue at the border regions. He said they will continue to send samples for genomic sequencing in order to determine if any of the new strains are circulating locally. (G12)