Pfizer vaccine to be roll out for children aged 5-11 on Friday

The Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Education Ministry, will commence COVID-19 vaccination for children within the age cohort of five to 11 as of Friday.
A memorandum seen by this publication on Tuesday announced this move, which will see the administration of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to this subset of children.
“A schedule will be published and circulated that will indicate which schools will be used as vaccination sites and on what dates children can go to be vaccinated. This process will be done using a cluster approach whereby students of specific schools will be required to visit a nearby school to receive their vaccines,” the Education Ministry shared.
Meanwhile, students entering Grade Seven can return to their respective primary schools to receive their vaccine, once that school is a vaccination site; or they can visit the school which will be the site for primary school children.
The Education Ministry has said, “The return to schools for face-to-face teaching and learning is highly dependent on the rollout of this vaccination programme. Efforts must be made by the school, PTA, school boards, old students’ association, Departments of Education, and the community to educate parents on the importance of having their children vaccinated, and to ensure a smooth flow of this process.”
This decision comes after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month granted emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer-BioNTech to be administered to children between the ages of five and 11. When the campaign started in Guyana, only children above the age of 12 were eligible for the vaccine.
Currently, Guyana is using the Pfizer jab to inoculate its adolescent population (12 to 17) and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Recent figures show that some 28,433 persons, or 39 per cent of those between the ages of 12 and 17, have received their first dose; and approximately 19,624 persons, or 26.9 per cent of this age cohort, are fully immunised.
A few weeks ago, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony had indicated that he was not worried about the response to the immunisation of the new age cohort, since the Ministry would continue to use the Pfizer jab with which thousands of teenagers have been vaccinated. He added that there are lots of credible information out there for parents and guardians to access in order to make an informed decision.
The double-dose vaccine has an efficacy of about 95 per cent, and is one of two vaccines approved for children by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
After the outbreak of COVID-19 here in March 2020, schools were closed with little to no engagements. However, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government took office in August last year, a series of virtual learning initiatives were implemented.
Then public schools across Guyana were partially reopened for face-to-face learning in September, with individualised plans that see a limited number of children allowed to attend classes at a time. Additionally, school hours have been drastically reduced, in some cases, to two-to-three-hour sessions.
Officials have, however, continued to mull the reopening of schools for complete classroom activity as the only way to curb the continued learning loss which the country is experiencing. The only safe way to reopen schools is through vaccination of both teachers and students. The latest figures have shown that over 60 per cent of teachers are vaccinated.