‘Vaccination policy ill-conceived’

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...Van-West Charles questions whether medical experts or politicians crafting guidelines

Former Guyana Water Inc head Dr. Richard Van-West Charles has questioned whether the Government has carefully thought out its removal of restrictions to healthcare for unvaccinated patients but its exclusion of the unvaccinated accompanying these patients, save for those with a negative PCR test.

Former Guyana Water Inc head Dr. Richard Van-West Charles

This was one of the most recent notices dispatched by the Ministry of Health. Previously, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) had informed the public that unvaccinated, non-emergent patients and visitors at the hospital and satellite clinics would not be able to enter the compound unless they were vaccinated or could present a negative PRC test.

This caused many people to become upset as questions about human rights and the right to access health care were raised. Days later, the Ministry of Health put out a notice stating: “…any patient seeking care at any public health facility across the ten administrative regions, whether vaccinated or not, must be allowed to access health care. Persons accompanying the patient must show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test to gain entry.”


Van-West Charles said in a message on social media that while it is good to see the Government remove its restriction for the entry of patients, it remains infeasible to create a situation whereby a patient’s access to health care may nonetheless be hampered due to their inability to be accompanied at a critical moment.

“The restriction re unvaccinated persons accompanying the unwell does not make sense. Let us say the patient is a child, then the parent or guardian must accompany the child since for any procedure and treatment modalities parental consent is required. If we have an adult unconscious patient or a patient who has suffered a stroke or is in a diabetic coma or in traffic accident there is a need for the presence of someone who would have details of the medical history. The physician needs to communicate with a relative who may have details of the medical history of the patient etc. These are examples of medical emergencies. Imagine an asthmatic child arriving at the hospital and because the mother is unvaccinated she cannot accompany her child,” Van-West Charles put forward.

He added: “It is obvious that the mental health component has not been considered. What has to be required is compliance with the requirement of masks and sanitizing. It is obvious that healthcare professionals are not crafting these notices and rules. Please stop with these draconian measures.”

Similar questions have come from members of the public. “So you have to drop off your sick child or sick parents like cattle at the gate and hope they give the nurses the right information?” questioned Donna Trotz on the Ministry’s page.

Brenda Star also asked: “So, if there is an emergency and no time to get a PCR test what is the person accompanying the patient to do? Suppose it’s a minor? What kind of policy is this?”

Like Van-West Charles, others have also questioned the late information release about those who can choose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and those who should await guidance from their physician before taking the vaccine out of caution.

This updated information on the Government’s vaccination policy was released on August 11, over a week after introducing restrictions for the unvaccinated, by Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Narine Singh.

It gave guidance to pregnant mothers, breastfeeding mothers, those with underlying conditions such as sickle cell, epilepsy, haemophilia, patients receiving chemotherapy or dialysis and patients with an acute cardiac event or acute cerebrovascular event. It also gave instruction to those who were recently COVID-19 positive and individuals who received a blood transfusion.

It indicated who were to take the vaccines following approval from their health physicians, who were exempted if they so choose and who should wait a specific period of time before taking the vaccine for effectiveness or caution.

“This is what I was expecting to be released even before the gazetted order became enforced,” Kim Dundas said while Charlie Greg questioned: “Closing the stable door after the horse is gone?”

Persons have also questioned how health workers would go about confirming who is a breastfeeding mother to allow for her exemption if she so chooses.

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