Health Minister reinforces need for COVID-19 vaccination

– as newer sub-variants of Omicron emerge

A surge in new COVID-19 cases and the emergence of newer sub-variants of Omicron reinforces the importance of persons getting vaccinated to prevent severe illness or death.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday, during the COVID-19 update, noted that while the BA5 variant is causing more infections because it is more transmissible, newer sub-variants of Omicron like the BA.4.75, and BA 2.75 are also a concern.

“These are new variants or subvariants that are emerging, we don’t know how they will behave. We don’t know if they would be more transmissible… whether they will cause more severe disease…or maybe they just wouldn’t become widespread,” Dr Anthony said.

In Guyana, so far 445,650 persons or 86.9 per cent of the adult population have taken the first dose of a vaccine while, 345,642 persons or 67.3 per cent, have taken two doses.

Of this number, only 72,009 persons have returned for booster shots.

The vaccination uptake among the adolescent population remains stable at 48.7 per cent taking the first dose, while 35.7 per cent have received both doses.

This number is even smaller for the 5-11 age category with only 7.4 per cent of that population taking the first dose, while only 2.7 per cent have so far taken a second dose.

Individual being given a Covid-19 vaccine

Meanwhile, vaccines remain available for all age categories.

“Unfortunately, if we don’t have high uptake, we are going to get some of the vaccines expiring, we don’t want that to happen and therefore we are encouraging people to ensure they come and get vaccinated,” the Health Minister said.

Minister Anthony noted that most of the hospitalised are unvaccinated and have comorbidities.

He said, “One of the reasons that we have been hearing is that people are fatigued, they have been at this for two years or more, they don’t want to wear masks, they just want to move around and be free, but there is a consequence to that, because we are still in a pandemic.” According to the World Health Organisation, there continues to be an increase in new cases of the disease over the past few months.