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Guyana begins vaccination journey to beat back coronavirus – Health Minister

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 February 2021, 13:48 by Denis Chabrol

Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Pharmacist, Brinnet Bernarai receiving a coronavirus vaccines.

Guyana on Thursday began rolling out  COVID-19 vaccination, targeting some 22,000 frontline health care workers in the government and private health sector with the first doses administered at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Health Minister  Dr. Frank Anthony hoped that all frontline healthcare workers would be vaccinated before the end off the first quarter of 2021. “By the end of the month, going into March, our hope is that every single health worker would be able to get vaccinated so that we would by then have enough doses of vaccines to be able to provide to every single health worker whether you are in the public sector or the private sector,” he said.

After the frontline workers, he said the elderly and persons with comorbidities would be targeted.

The vaccination exercise began one day after Barbados donated 1,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines. First receiving the jab was Pharmacist Brinnet Bernarai.

Cardiologist Dr. Mahendra Carpen, who heads the COVID-19 fight at the Georgetown Public Hospital, says he took the jab as a way of instilling  confidence in the vaccine. “It’s the least that I can do to do my part in protecting myself and in doing so I will protect those around me,” he said.

Dr. Anthony said Thursday was a significant day in beating back the coronavirus that so far claimed 184 lives in Guyana. “This might look like a very simple moment but it marks, I would say, the beginning of the turnaround of this pandemic in Guyana because our intention is to ensure that we reach herd immunity which means that over the next couple of months that we would be able to secure enough vaccines so most of the adult population here in Guyana would be able  to get those vaccines,” he said.

He said Guyana expects more AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX initiative as well as China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V

The initial vaccination phase, which will see healthcare workers receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, began at the Georgetown Public Hospital where more severe COVID-19 cases are going for treatment. “The staff here is more at risk for contracting COVID-19” but “very shortly” frontline workers at regional hospitals would be getting the jab.

He also announced that the Health Ministry would be rolling out a public education and information campaign to urge Guyanese to take the vaccine as well as dispel concerns and myths.