Making vaccine available to every adult only way to come out of pandemic – Health Minister

Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health

As Guyana and the rest of world are looking to get back to some state of normalcy, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has indicated that they only way the country can get out of the COVID-19 pandemic is by immunizing almost all of the adults.

The Health Minister made the statement during his daily COVID-19 update to the nation. Dr Anthony related that the Ministry is seeking to make the vaccine accessible to every person willing to take it. However, he did reiterate that current rollout plan targets frontline workers, health workers and persons over the age of 60 years old.

Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health

He said that they are pleased by the response as well as the growing demand by the younger population to have access to the vaccine.

“We are expecting some vaccines from Covax and once we get those, we will reassess where we are at that point and maybe we can lower the age range a bit. But I am happy that people are responding well because the only way we can exit this pandemic is by most of the adults in Guyana should get immunized. So, at some point everyone will receive their vaccine but we just want to do it in this order so we can protect the most vulnerable first,” he said.

The Minister also used the opportunity to dispel a lot of the rumours surrounding the vaccines. He said that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out to millions to people in the world and nothing like this has been reported.

“I just want people to understand that the protective effects of these vaccines outweigh whatever little side effects that you would get when the vaccines are being administered and those side effects are really a little bit pain in your arm, a little bit fever. But after a couple of hours that is gone and your immune system would start developing antibodies that would protect you from the COVID and I think that is what is important,” the Health Minister explained.

In relation to the Sinopharm vaccines also being administered in Guyana, Dr Anthony said that it has administered to millions of people in the Middle East, in China and in parts of South America with no reported detrimental side effects.

FLASHBACK: Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony (center) receiving Guyana’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines which were donated by the Government of Barbados.

Explaining how vaccines work, the Health Minister related that vaccines are made by taking small or tiny parts of the virus and incorporating it in the injections in an effort to stimulate the immune system.

“All the vaccines that are available would mimic a tiny part of the virus but that tiny part of the virus cannot give anyone an infection because that is how it is designed. So, vaccines would provoke your immune system to work and produce antibodies so that it fights off this disease without giving you the COVID infection,” Dr Anthony related.