Guyana’s “vaccinódromo” has just opened in Cayenne, the capital of the overseas department that borders the state of Amapá. The issue is dealt with prominently by the information portal of France Info, because the local Regional Health Agency (ARS) is taking advantage of advertisements for the delivery of thousands of doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines to extend vaccination to people over 30 years old.
The Brazilian variant currently accounts for a third of coronavirus cases in French Guiana. In São Jorge do Oiapoque (Saint-Georges-de-l’Oyapock, in French) and in the villages along the Oiapoque river, which forms the natural border with Brazil, vaccination is offered to people over 18 years old.
“By vaccinating the youngest and also in the age group of 30 to 40 years, we hope to further protect the territory from the risk of spread and import” of the virus, explains the director of the local health agency, Clara from Bort. The population of Guyana is 300,000 people, on average very young, explains the director of the ARS.
“We do not have the same age pyramid as in mainland France. People over the age of 75 are not numerous and have been vaccinated,” De Bort reports to the France Info site. As of March 24, 8,016 people had been vaccinated, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
The extension of vaccination to the youngest will be made possible, according to her, by the delivery of 19 thousand doses in April. Stocks will increase further in May, with 42,000 doses of vaccine expected to arrive and 52,000 in June. Cayenne’s “vaccinódromo”, opened this Tuesday 30, will have the capacity to make 500 injections per day, against 200 previously.
The border between French Guiana and Brazil is closed, but that did not prevent the Brazilians of Amapá from trying to illegally cross the Oiapoque River, to be vaccinated against Covid-19 on French territory, where the campaign vaccination program is open to all adults.
On the days of vaccination, the French police reinforced river patrols to intercept Brazilians who venture in canoes and small motor boats to reach the other side of the river, as shown in a report from the France Info channel.
A Brazilian woman who managed to get vaccinated on French territory explained her motivations. “I work in the transport of people, I am in contact with a lot of people every day,” said Carmen Lucia, who works on the cross-border cooperation project between Brazil and France. Like her, only 50 Brazilians were allowed to cross the Oiapoque River in order to benefit from the vaccination.
Since the start of the pandemic, French Guiana has reported 16,922 cases of the disease and 89 deaths.