Work ongoing to digitise COVID-19 vaccination records
…Govt to sign agreement with India to produce electronic cards
Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has disclosed that work is ongoing to digitise the records from the COVID-19 vaccination programme and produce electronic vaccination cards that would protect against forgery.
During Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, Dr Anthony explained that the Health Ministry is currently working on two projects to achieve this. The first is to digitise all the vaccination records that were gathered from across the country.
“All the manual registers that we have, we are converting that into the digital formats, so that work has been ongoing. We have recruited staff for that purpose, we have designated a special area where we are doing all of that, and we have bought all of the equipment to make sure that that is happening. So, that is an ongoing process,” he noted.
Simultaneously, the Health Ministry has been engaging the Government of India to finalise an agreement that would see Guyana having access to the COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) software, which would allow the production of electronic vaccination cards.
CoWIN is a vaccination tracking software that was developed by India and is currently being used in over 70 countries around the world, including those from Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It has been reported that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed officials to create an open-source version of the platform and give it free of cost to any country that wants it.
According to Minister Anthony, this agreement with the Indian Government will be signed in the coming days.
“During this week, we’ll be signing off the Memorandum of Understanding which will allow us to now get the CoWIN software. Once we get that CoWIN software, that’s going to be what we’ll be using. So, we’ll migrate the electronic data that we have into that software, and then we’ll be able to produce the new cards that people will have. These cards will have certain features, and people are not going to be able to forge them, [like] the problems that we have right now, where people are trying to forge these cards,” Dr Anthony posited.
Currently, the Health Ministry is using a paper booklet to give to persons when they get vaccinated. However, there have been several instances in which persons have forged their vaccination records after illegally obtaining the booklets. In fact, there are about 15 such fraud cases under investigation by the Guyana Police Force. They involve persons who have been caught forging the COVID-19 vaccine booklets.
Earlier this month, the Health Minister warned persons engaged in this practice, especially those in the medical field, such as medics. He had noted that while most workers in the healthcare sector are “honest, hardworking people”, there are a few who are dishonest and are facilitating the forging of COVID-19 vaccination booklets.
According to Dr Anthony, not only is the practice illegal, but it can be detrimental to the ongoing vaccination efforts.
“If you’re facilitating somebody to get the card but they didn’t get the vaccine, then, when they get sick, we’ll probably think that they have been immunised and we are getting a breakthrough infection, when, in the first place, they did not get the vaccine at all. So we have to put an end to this practice, and I want to urge those healthcare workers who have been involved in this (practice) to desist,” he pointed out.
Minister Anthony indicated that anyone found engaging in this fraudulent practice would face the full brunt of the law, including those in possession of the forged vaccine booklet.
“This is a really serious offence. The persons who are buying these cards, if we catch you, you are going to be charged for tendering a forged document. So, you know, either way, those who enable this and those who are caught with those documents are going to face serious penalties,” the Health Minister had stated.
To date, some 374,539 persons have received their first dose of a vaccine; that is, 73% of the adult population; while another 233,391 persons are fully vaccinated, accounting for 45.5% of the population 18 years and older.
Additionally, 26,554 persons between the ages of 12 and 18 have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, which is 36.4% of that age cohort. Of that figure, 16,802 persons, or 23% of the adolescents, are fully immunised. (G8)