Letter: Mandatory vaccination is not a bad idea

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Dear Editor,

We are living in some very dangerous times, and my prayer is that all Guyanese will experience some kind of intelligent awareness of what is really happening. The COVID-19 pandemic is not relenting, and, to me, Guyanese are overall quite facetious about the reality of the disease.

I share the sentiments of President Irfaan Ali who, in an impassioned speech, reminded us (as at May 6) that only 154,000 doses of the various vaccines have been administered. This translates to 31 per cent of the population 18 years and older. This is not good. Something must be done.

Now, word is that the Government is pondering the idea of making the vaccination compulsory in order to curb the COVID-19 situation. The reason is very straightforward, as vaccines are seen as the tool that would enable countries to exit the pandemic and circumvent the challenges raised by those who breach the COVID-19 guidelines, and (therefore) allow for the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.

I envisage that unless our attitude to the vaccination programme is one of compliance, the compulsory move will become necessary. Adviser in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, is quite on track here. He stated that… “people have not been adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines, and, as such, have contributed to the spread of the virus.” This pronouncement ensued from “…reports that there have been nine COVID-19-related deaths that were not confirmed nor reported before.”

He explained that “…lic health advice and go out without our masks and go into large gatherings, etcetera, more people will get infected.”

So, I repeat: Guyana may have to mandate the vaccination of its citizens.
Let me state that the authorities in control of the health sector have been desperately battling the pandemic, and they need the nation’s cooperation. So far, in its bid to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana has been on an aggressive vaccination campaign, wherein all adults are eligible for one of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered locally.

In this regard, kudos must be showered on some conscientious folks. It was reported that, “Over the weekend, there was a kind of ‘better attitude’ prevailing, as “Over 120 residents of Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara received their second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine during a community outreach exercise on Saturday.”

The Health Minister was buoyed, and noted, “It shows the power of working with community groups. Here it is we made that call, and we are extremely pleased that this community group here, Block 8 Development Group, heeded that call and has been able to work with the Ministry of Health. We have provided the technical personnel, the vaccines, and so forth, but they did all the community organising and mobilising of people.”

So, I am gleaning that there is a need for all of us to pitch in. As was the case in this Block 8, so must other communities follow suit. The advantage of this is that there will be far fewer queuing up and mass gatherings, which are the very antithesis of what should happen.

The vaccination rollout is not being stymied from any governmental setback, as Guyana received more COVID-19 vaccines this week.
With billions spent and forceful negotiations from our Health Sector, all that is now needed is that Guyanese respond positively before it is too late.

Sincerely,
Brian Azore