Trinidad and Tobago, with a population of 1.4 million, has been promised enough vaccines for between 50,000 to 60,000 persons this March, according to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.
Deyalsingh made the announcement yesterday during the 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association (TTMA) Virtual Presidential Inauguration and Conferring of Honours ceremony.
The twin-island republic was allocated ‘an initial 100,000 to 120,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine via the Covax facility’. The Ministry of Health will reserve 50% of the vaccines to ensure that each recipient receives the required two doses.
The vaccines should go to frontline health care workers and persons with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease patients.
Deyalsingh insisted that the government will not rely solely on the Covax facility but also intends to use bilateral discussions with vaccine suppliers and the Caricom Covid-19 Vaccine Initiative, as means to acquire more of the drugs to help stave off the novel coronavirus.
Otherwise, Deyalsingh said the Ministry of Health is ‘far advanced in its preparation to receive and distribute the vaccine locally’ and has stockpiled one million alcohol swabs and 1.5 million syringes.
The Ministry of Health also claims to have the capacity to store over 300,000 Covid-19 vaccines at 2 to 8 degrees, 200,000 at -20 degrees and 200,000 at -70 degrees Celsius.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine can be stored in the standard vaccine refrigerator, which maintains a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
The government hopes to implement its ‘vaccine deployment’ through parallel pathways of the public health sector and private sector—both with oversight by the Ministry of Health.
“This will give Trinidad and Tobago the best chance of mass protection from the evolving Covid-19 variants,” said Deyalsingh.
Twenty-three public health facilities have been identified as future vaccination sites, while the government intends to create four ‘mass vaccination sites’.
The Ministry of Health is due to address ‘vaccine hesitancy and plans for the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine in Trinidad and Tobago’ at a symposium on Sunday 7 February, which will be conducted in collaboration with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies (UWI).
Invitees will include the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and the Inter-Religious Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago.