Guyana: Covid vaccine not mandatory, but people encouraged to get immunised

– health workers, others can choose to take the jab – – Health Minister Anthony

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony says no one will lose their job if they decline a COVID-19 vaccine, neither will persons be pressured to take the jab.

The Minister made this clear during Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.

Although he hopes everyone would get immunised, Minister Anthony said no frontline worker needed to be fearful.

“Well health workers have an option, they can either take the vaccine or if they don’t want to take it, that’s okay. But our job as a Ministry, and as a Government, is to be able to offer them the vaccine, and it’s their choice, whether they’d like to have the vaccine or not. You will recall that the President has said that we are not making this mandatory,” Minister Anthony said.

At the same time, Dr. Anthony said due to their high risk of exposure, he hopes all frontline workers would take the vaccine.

“I’m very sure that health workers, nurses, doctors, other people in the health sector, they understand that because they are more at risk because of their interaction, that it would be wiser to take the vaccine because it protects.

It would help reduce infection and of course, it prevents the most severe and critical forms of the disease. So, if you are immunised, then you’re protected and I’m sure health workers want to be protected,” he said.

Minister Anthony said while he understood the earlier scepticism, he is confident this is gradually changing.

“Initially, people were worried about maybe the side effects and so forth, but a lot of people are taking the vaccines so far and they’ve had very mixed side effects. Most of those are things that you would expect with any injection. At the site of the injection there is a little bit of pain, some people might experience a little bit of fever and so, but these are all things that you get with any injection.

Again, the vaccine is purely voluntary, you take it if you want to take it. We would of course encourage you to get it because we know that it works and it’s protective, and around the world people are really trying to get access to vaccines,” he added.

The Minister also says frontline workers should capitalise on the opportunity to take the vaccine now.  During the next vaccination round, when other categories of persons become eligible, it may be difficult for them to access vaccines.

In Government’s COVID-19 protocol, which is partly adopted from the World Health Organization, frontline healthcare workers, the elderly and persons with comorbidities have been given first preference for the vaccines as they become available.

The general population will then follow. However, there will be preferences to other groups which fall under the frontline category; among those are servicemen and women and teachers.

Minister Anthony said while the numbers are still being tallied, the Government has ensured that healthcare workers across the regions have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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