Religious leaders encouraged to be advocates for Covid vaccination
─Vaccine hesitancy workshop taken to Region Two
To address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the Ministry of Health has taken its three days ‘Vaccine Hesitancy Workshop’ to Region Two, as there has been a low record of vaccination there.
Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, M.P, speaking at the opening of the workshop on Monday, said just about 67.7 percent of the region’s adult population took the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 53 percent are fully vaccinated. The minister therefore encouraged religious leaders to advocate for more vaccination in the region.
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the government has been able to procure six different Covid-19 vaccines for Guyana’s eligible population.
However, even with this effort the country is still facing the issue of vaccine hesitancy, mainly due to misinformation from social media and influential persons in communities across Guyana.
“I really want you to become advocates for us, to be able to talk to other religious leaders in the community to get them on board…[because] by what they say, they have become some of the main instruments in preventing people from getting the vaccine,” Dr. Anthony told participants.
He said Region Two, at one time was leading in the vaccination effort and was seen as an inspiration to other regions to get their populations inoculated, now it is challenging to get persons vaccinated because of false information circulating in the region.
“Sometimes when you hear the things that people say, you know it should give us pause to think whether this is making sense or not and if it’s not then we should be able to help to dispel those types of myths,” the Health Minister noted.
Dr. Anthony said 59 deaths have been recorded in Region Two, with most of those persons being unvaccinated.
“When we look at the stats, one of the things it is showing us is that most of those people have been unvaccinated so perhaps if they were vaccinated these would’ve been preventable deaths.”
Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah Ann-Lynch during her remarks told participants that they will be playing an important role in passing on factual information concerning the vaccines, noting that vaccine hesitancy is one of the major barriers to the country returning to normalcy.
“Armed with the knowledge gained from this workshop your work will be instrumental, very important to helping people overcome their fears and their concerns surrounding vaccines hesitancy through information grounded in science, grounded in facts.”
She also noted that the United States will continue to partner with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF to bring awareness about the Covid-19 vaccines.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, M.P, Director of Primary Health Care Services, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton and UNICEF Deputy Representative, Guyana and Suriname, Irfan Akhtar were also present.