Good turnout for Covid vaccines at drive-through event at stadium

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony is encouraging the public to seize the opportunity to take the COVID-19 vaccine at the first drive-through vaccination exercise currently ongoing at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence. The exercise started at 9 am and will continue until 9pm. 

Minister of Health, Hon. Frank Anthony at the first COVID-19 drive-through exercise held at Providence

The Minister said the exercise is the result of discussions on how to make vaccination more convenient for the public, and he is pleased with the response. He noted that since the since the start of the exercise this morning, there continues to be a constant flow of vehicles at the stadium.  

“We thought about this idea where people can just be in the comfort of their vehicle, drive up and they would be able to have someone come to the vehicle, take their information and then you drive to the next station, and you get your vaccines.

Double-checking: Personnel at the COVID-19 vaccination drive-through exercise register persons for the vaccine.

I’m happy that it’s working so effectively because as of this morning, I see a steady flow of vehicles coming through, which is a really good thing,” he said.

Minister Anthony noted that even though it is a drive-through exercise, stations are set up to cater to pedestrians. Persons can access their first or second doses during the exercise.

Registering persons for their Covid vaccine at the drive-through exercise at Providence

“As of today, we have close to 180,000 people who would have received their first dose. And we have, I think, forty-six or forty-seven thousand persons who have received their second dose.

And we are hopeful that by the end of today’s exercise that those numbers would go up significantly. So please encourage persons to come out and get their vaccines,” he said.

This young man gets immunised at the COVID-19 vaccination drive-through exercise at Providence.

Minister Anthony said at the close of the event, it will be reviewed to determine its effectiveness and whether the exercise should be replicated in other parts of the country.

“We’re using this as a pilot, and if it works well, then we certainly want to replicate it. I heard the RHO [Regional Health Officer] already talking about maybe doing a similar thing on Independence Day, but let’s see.

 We will review after today’s activity. And if it’s working really, we’ll want to replicate it not only in Region Four, but we can also think about other regions as well.”

Director of Primary Healthcare, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton registers this woman for her COVID-19 vaccine.

Minister Anthony also said even though the vaccination campaign has been ongoing across the country, the immunisation rates in Region 10 still isn’t quite up to par with the other regions. This will hamper the Government’s goal of attaining herd immunity soon. As such, he said the Ministry is working on new strategies to promote more vaccinations there.

“So, in Region 10 right now, the rates are about 11 per cent, and they’re lagging behind most, all, the other regions. So, our intention is really to make sure that we can take those numbers up and we have a few strategies that we will be working on over the coming weeks, and we are hopeful that those numbers will go up,” he said.

Those strategies include educational sessions through various groups and platforms such as the radio stations to educate persons on the importance of being immunised.

A section of the COVID-19 vaccination drive-through exercise at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence.

Meanwhile, Region Four’s RHO Dr. Gavinash Persaud said the initiative aimed to provide a convenient way for persons who desired to take the vaccine could get immunised.

“We have analysed why we are not having the turnout that we would expected and this is just an initiative that whereby we think that it’s going to be much more accessible to the people of the country.

And if people turn out the way we want them to and we’re asking them to, then we will quickly achieve the number to have herd immunity, and therefore, to some extent, we can step out of the pandemic, be immunised and we can return to our normal lives.

Vehicles in a queue at COVID-19 vaccination drive-through exercise at Providence.

Additionally, Director of Primary Healthcare, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, in an invited comment spoke to DPI about the importance of hosting activities such as the vaccination drive to meet the needs of the population.

“I think it is important that we have activities like this, because we realise that vaccination is not a stationary activity but we have to be able to be flexible enough to meet the needs of the people around the country.

We are working towards herd immunity so that means we have to go wherever the vaccination programme takes us, and we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that the people of Guyana remain protected.”

Meanwhile, residents from Providence and its environs said they are pleased with the vaccination process and how simple and efficient it is.

Mrs. Narissa Thornhill said: “This process here, the drive-though, I think it’s a is a very good initiative. It’s fast, its seamless, there’s hardly any wait, it just takes about 10 minutes. Well, you have to wait for observation for another 15 minutes but excellent service, not a hitch.

I would like to encourage other persons to come get the vaccine. It’s for your benefit. It’s gonna save you; it can save your loved ones too and just come out, take advantage, its being offered. It’s free.”

The Ministry also reminds the public that even after vaccination, it is still important to observe the gazetted precautionary COVID-19 measures, particularly masking in public, frequent hand washing/sanitising and practising social distancing.