Parliamentarians to be vaccinated against Covid-19

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony says Members of Parliament (MP) will have the opportunity to be vaccinated from the recent consignment of COVID-19 vaccines.

During the COVID-19 update on Monday, the Minister said the matter is being examined, following numerous calls for MPs to be immunised to bolster public confidence in the vaccines.

“We are going to consider that during this current run because there are not many parliamentarians and we think we will be able to cover them. So, those parliamentarians who would be interested in getting their vaccine, we will make those vaccines available in this round,” Dr. Anthony said.

On Sunday, Guyana received 80,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India. This, coupled with the 20,000 doses of Sinopharm the Government received from China last Tuesday, brings the total amount to 100,000 doses. Both vaccines are being distributed across the regions to ensure that every eligible person is immunised.

“They’re both within the same range of effectiveness and they do a good job in protecting people from getting the infection and preventing people from getting the more severe form of the disease so, I think looking at the data, they’re equally effective,” Dr. Anthony said.

The Minister said the vaccines are being rolled out in a phased approach to ensure that the most exposed or vulnerable groups of the population benefit first. He explained that priority remains on immunising frontline health workers along with persons ages 60 and above, followed by persons with comorbidities.

“Our deployment of vaccines we can envisage … maybe four phases. The first phase where we want to prioritise healthcare workers. We can say that is Phase I (A), then Phase I (B) would be all the people. Phase One (C) would be persons with comorbidities, Phase I (D) would be other essential workers like teachers.”

This will be followed by a second phase which would include members of the joint services and persons over 50 years old. The third phase will see everyone above the age of 18 being inoculated.

Minister Anthony noted that there might be a possible fourth stage where children are immunised, but none of the vaccines have yet been approved for children.

He also said stricter measures would be put in place to ensure that no one “jumps the queue” as happened during the initial roll out.

“We will be asking people to walk with their ID card so that we can verify who they are, and take the relevant information and if there are persons who are jumping the queue and we discover them, then they’re going to face stiff penalties.

“We want to make sure that we were able to prioritise these vaccines to people who need them the most and are most at risk,” he said.

Dr. Anthony said eventually, there will be enough vaccines to inoculate everyone in the country. Before the end of March, Guyana is expected to receive 104,000 doses through the COVAX facility. Meanwhile, Guyana is to purchase some 149,000 doses under an arrangement between CARICOM and the African Union.