Cautions against ignoring risks: Frontline Workers, Elderly Should Get Booster Shot – SLMA President
By Eunice Ruth
Frontline workers and the elderly population in the country should get the booster shot without delay as they run the risk of contracting the new COVID variant, President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) Dr. Padma Gunaratne said.
Dr. Gunaratne said “It is our responsibility to protect the elders of the country. In Sri Lanka, 15 per cent of the population are elders. All of them need to get the booster shot, especially those above 60 and having various comorbidities should not delay their vaccination for any reason”.
She said vaccination was nothing new to the public in Sri Lanka as they have been given different types of vaccines from birth. Similarly, the COVID-19 vaccination is given to protect and boost the immunity system of a person to fight against the virus. She advised the public not to be misled by false information about the vaccination process.
“According to research, it was revealed that the newly identified Omicron virus spreads very fast compared to the COVID-19 and Delta variants. At present, it has been identified in more than six countries and we are trying our maximum to stop the virus from entering our country. After the detection of the new variant, the Government has taken immediate measures to protect the country by preventing the virus from entering the island. Preventing tourists from countries detected with the new virus from entering Sri Lanka and conducting PCR tests on every person who enters the country is being implemented,” Dr. Gunaratne said.
She said, “In addition, the public must be educated about the virus and the risks involved by not following health guidelines.
Even though we saw a drop in the number of positive cases, the virus spread is not over in the country. The risk of virus transmission in the community is high at the moment. She advised the public to act responsibly to protect themselves and the economy during the oncoming festive season.”
Meanwhile, the vice president of SLMA, Dr. Manilka Sumanatillake said, “We were not aware of the COVID-19 virus even when the second wave hit and we failed to protect the lives of people. However, at present, we are aware of the virus and we know the precautionary measures that should be taken to prevent the new variant from entering the country”.
“The elderly population and those with comorbidities are the high-risk category and they need to maintain their immunity well. Accordingly, the booster shot will increase the immunity of an individual and it will prevent a person from contracting the virus,” said Dr. Sumanatillake.
“We have seen how the Delta variant has affected the elderly in the country and we do not want to see deaths due to the new variant,” he said.
Meanwhile, fielding a question regarding the risk involved in public transport, Dr. Gunaratne said, “As a country, we have failed to provide safe public transport to the public. However, we are still trying to reduce the risks by coordinating with the authorities, and soon we expect to execute a safe system for passengers”.