Vaccination week is being observed in Guyana and one of the areas the Ministry of Health will be focusing on during the week of activities is vaccination laws which will be updated.
The ministry on Saturday started its week of activities by launching ‘Vaccination week’ at the compound of the New Amsterdam Hospital, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, during his remarks, recalled that in 1974 a childhood vaccination law was passed to allow Guyana to vaccinate for only six diseases. Dr. Anthony said this law has not been updated, even though Guyana now has an expanded immunisation programme.
To this end, he announced that the ministry will be updating all outdated laws on vaccination in the country. “During this week, vaccination week, one of the things that we’ll be doing is making sure that the law is in keeping with what we have been doing over the years, making sure that what you have already been doing in the community across the country that our law would support that, so we’ll make that change during this week,” Minister Anthony said.
While speaking about COVID-19, the minister reminded the audience about the importance of getting vaccinated, especially the elders and those with comorbidities. He challenged the health workers in the region to get more citizens vaccinated against the deadly disease.
Dr. Anthony added, “We also must remind ourselves that we are in a pandemic, and in this pandemic one of the most effective tools that we have is to use vaccination to immunise people so that even if they get infected, they would not get the most severe form of the infection.”
The health minister added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a target of having 70 percent of a country’s population vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of June 2022. This, he noted Guyana can achieve with additional efforts in educating the population about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Minister Anthony is also urging people to not become complacent as the pandemic is still ongoing. He emphasised that “We are not very far from achieving that target of 70 percent, we are in our 60s, so if we make an additional effort, we will be able to get to that 70 percent mark before June of this year.”
Meanwhile, Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy reiterated the importance of getting children vaccinated. He noted, “We are using that week [vaccination week] to recommit ourselves and to assure our people that we will not rest until every child is vaccinated. That is our measure of success.”
He continued, “This year as we celebrate the 20th version of vaccination week, we would like to see Region Six reaffirming and recommitting and rededicating itself, because if there is one child in our region or in Guyana that is not having his or her vaccine then we would have failed.”
This year, the health ministry will be focusing on getting all children under the age of five fully vaccinated. Also, extensive campaigns will be rolled out for HPV and COVID-19 vaccination across Guyana.