New immunisation laws will not force vaccines on adults

– consultations will be held
– Min. Anthony   

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony says Government will not force anyone to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

During Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Minister Anthony said the new immunisation legislation to come is meant to guide the process of vaccination among the country’s adult population, as current immunisation laws govern the protocol among children.

He added that consultations will be held with the relevant stakeholders.

These bills, first of all are not developed in a vacuum, they are developed out of real problems … they are designed to fix those … In this context, we know the only way that you can exit this pandemic is if people are immunised and the only way you can get immunity is through a vaccine, now if the legislative framework in the country does not provide for adults to get vaccines then I think we have a challenge here.”

The Minister is encouraging citizens to participate.

“At the developmental stage of these bills, there are usually consultations and people are allowed their inputs and if that process has passed, they have another opportunity through their representative in Parliament.” 

A week ago, Minister Anthony tabled a motion in the National Assembly emphasising the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana and urging members to support the efforts underway to address the disease.

Dr. Anthony had explained that a greater percentage of the population needs to be immunised against the virus.      

“Scientifically, we have to at least vaccinate 60 to 80 per cent of our population; the vaccine is the only way of getting rid of the virus … We want people to understand how the vaccine works and we want to encourage people to take it. There is that discussion of whether the vaccine will be mandatory or optional, my option is that it should be left to the person to choose but we must educate them on the choice they are making.”

Minister Anthony noted that the situation is not unique to Guyana with other countries having to make similar legislative changes.

The World Health Organization has said that vaccination among children and adults are similar; they prevent diseases, guard against infections, prevent getting and spreading serious diseases and keep people healthy.

Guyana will access its COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX mechanism, which seeks to ensure people in all parts of the world are able to access COVID-19 vaccines once they become available. 

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