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—US-based Guyanese nurse urges Lindeners to take Covid vaccines
By Naomi Marshall
With Lindeners largely refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccines, US Clinical Nurse, Patricia Cummings has urged that good sense prevails and that adhering to information obtained from reliable sources is vital.
Last Wednesday, Region 10 Officials met with the US-registered nurse and Alfonzo Riley, and Former Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings at the Regional Democratic Council, Region 10 to address factors influencing the vaccination hesitancy within the region.
Cummings is US-based Guyanese, the Clinical Nurse Manager at Not-for-Profit Health Corporation in the US, and the nurse who administered the COVID-19 vaccine to US Vice President, Kamala Harris.
In her remarks, Nurse Cummings stated that while vaccines do not offer 100 percent prevention from contracting the virus, they do act as buffers against the virus, preventing severe or fatal cases from occurring and reducing the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
She added that the vaccines are safe and effective to use which is why it is imperative that persons get vaccinated. “No one is trying to force you to do anything, this is an informed decision. A lot of the hesitancy, a lot of the confusion, we understand it because we dealt with it ourselves and that is why we are speaking from a place of personal experience to say to you as health professionals, we have seen the detriment of the virus and it is proving to become more detrimental. Please do your part, go ahead get vaccinated,” the nurse of 16 years pleaded.
Regional Chairman of Region 10, Deron Adams said that he believes the spread of misinformation such as conspiracy theories and myths have spiked vaccination hesitancy and refusal, however, officials will continue to put steps in place for the dissemination of credible information so that persons can act responsibly. “We believe that the driving force for the public panic is as a result of the misinformation that is being peddled on Facebook and persons turning to all of the doctors that would have popped up overnight instead of looking to credible agencies like PAHO/WHO for information,” he noted.
Giving an overview of Region 10’s COVID-19 statistics was Regional Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Harris. To date, 5787 persons have been tested in Region 10 and 1509 were confirmed cases of the virus. Currently there are 50 active cases in the region. While 1422 persons have recovered from the virus, 43 persons have died.
According to Dr. Harris, the infection rate of the population is very high but the vaccination rate is very low.
Dr. Harris highlighted that while over 26,000 residents of Region 10 are eligible for the vaccines, only 15.7 percent of that target population have received their first dose. Meanwhile, just 8 percent is fully vaccinated. “I am trusting that people of Region 10 will make the good decision and the wise decision which is for them to be vaccinated. We need to increase our numbers. We are appealing to everyone to get vaccinated so that we can return to some form of normalcy,” Harris posited.
Meanwhile, Former Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings shared that she is appalled by the spread of propaganda relating to the virus because “COVID is real”. “I am appalled and saddened because COVID is real, it is apolitical, it does not know colour, race or anything and persons are dying. So it is very serious and so persons need to follow credible information. There is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organisation and other credible services available,” Dr. Cummings noted.
She said that it is time persons stop spreading myths and conspiracy theories about the virus and get vaccinated. “We want to decrease symptoms of COVID, we want to decrease even the burden of finances of the healthcare system, we want to ensure that there is decreased hospitalisations and of course deaths. So I am appealing to persons to get vaccinated. I have been vaccinated,” Dr. Cummings posited.
The discussion was also Live on Facebook and gave residents the opportunity to ask questions about the vaccines and have those questions answered by the health care professionals present on the panel. In addressing public concerns about the vaccines Nurse Cummings said that information regarding the vaccines are fluid and ever evolving. She encouraged persons who have had COVID-19 in the past to get vaccinated as well since the time span of how long your body retains the antibodies is not certain at the moment.
“In as much as your body does build up antibodies when you are tested COVID-19 positive, studies are showing that you are not necessarily totally protected. It does not mean that you retain those antibodies for life. So because of that uncertainty it is recommended that you do receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a boost, an extra protection,” Patricia Cummings stated.
The vaccines available in Region 10 are the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V. Persons interested in getting vaccinated can visit their closest health centre or look out for portable vaccination sites in their area. Also present was Head of the Regional COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Michael Marks.