To date, more than 44,000 Guyanese have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. By the end of this week, we expect that about 80,000 Guyanese would have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is a strong response to the spiraling COVID-19 epidemic in Guyana. As much as this is a strong response, and as much as the Ministry of Health deserves high praise for an effective vaccine campaign so far, there is clearly visible hesitation.
The vaccination program from this time has targeted people aged 40 and over. More than 5,000 people under the age of 40 have received their first dose of the vaccine, because they are frontline health workers. But there are nearly 200,000 people 40 years and over. It means that less than 50% of those aged 40 and over have come forward to receive their vaccine.
The President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Health Minister, other Ministers and Members of Parliament of the PPP have been relentless in promoting the COVID-19 vaccines. The lone Joinder MP – ANUG, TCM and LJP – has also taken his vaccine, and urged people to take their vaccines. The National Assembly Spokesperson has also done so.
The leadership of the PPP and all the newer political parties that contested the March 2020 General and Regional Elections have come forward and encouraged people to take their vaccines. Private Sector leaders have also been aggressively promoting COVID-19 vaccines. Various faith leaders have joined the call for our Guyanese sisters and brothers to get their vaccines.
But there is a screaming, screaming silence among some political leaders, who refuse to promote the COVID-19 vaccination program. PNC and APNU Leader David Granger has been quietly irresponsible on the vaccine campaign. Mr Granger is an AEF, missing in action, much like he was President. When he was President, in times of trouble or crisis, he was always an MIA. Today, David Granger is quiet at a time when every responsible Guyanese leader should be out in front of him urging our Guyanese sisters and brothers to take their COVID-19 vaccines.
Mr Granger certainly has nothing against the COVID-19 vaccine. He has been publicly known to take his vaccine. It is vexatious, therefore, that he would adopt a silent posture. He has not said a word of encouragement. It is not about helping the Government, it is about the responsibility and obligation that Mr Granger has as the leader of the second largest political party in the country. Even if he does not care about all Guyanese citizens, he should take care of his own supporters. The time has come for Mr Granger to call on his supporters to take the available vaccines.
Now public speculation is whether Joe Harmon has taken his vaccine. If he hasn’t taken his vaccine, he’s the poster child for recklessness. At the very least, it disappoints its fans. The MOH team held a dedicated vaccination session for MPs, and I know that most MPs were there to take their vaccines. I know the other leaders of the PNC and the AFC and the one-man parties belonging to APNU + AFC have taken their vaccines. But they are silent about the vaccination program. The ugly silence is out of their own supporters. It is a summary of the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition. It is irresponsible for all those MPs from the Opposition APNU + AFC to remain silent. Their silence is not just ugly, it is reckless.
To his credit, former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo showed up among current Opposition MPs about his vaccine, and graciously mentioned that he hoped Guyanese would take the vaccine. Nagamootoo took time after that to write a lengthy epistle defending APNU + AFC’s unreasonable attempt to thief the March 2020 elections. His AFC colleagues, Khemraj Ramjattan, Raphael Trotman and others, have taken the vaccine.
They have also decided that silence is their preferred site. If the vaccine is good enough for them, why isn’t the vaccine good enough for their Guyanese sisters and brothers, those who support them and those who don’t. The silence of Opposition leaders and their MPs, even after they have taken the COVID-19 vaccine, is reckless, and I have no hesitation in calling out their hypocrisy.
At present, Guyana has enough vaccines to vaccinate 81,000 Guyanese with their first dose and 61,000 with their second dose. In the coming weeks, Guyana would receive enough vaccines to vaccinate another 150,000 Guyanese citizens. By mid-May, the MOH is hopeful that at least 250,000 Guyanese would have received at least one dose of the vaccine, of which more than 20,000 would have received their second dose. It is incumbent on all political leaders to play a role in the successful introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines. Political leaders who choose silence at this critical time remove their responsibility to the people of Guyana. They must be held accountable for this ugly silence.

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