Tobago prepares storage for covid19 vaccines

Acting county medical officer of health Dr Tiffany Hoyte  - THA
Acting county medical officer of health Dr Tiffany Hoyte - THA

Tobago is making its preparations ahead of the arrival of covid19 vaccines, which is expected in March.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Acting County Medical Officer of Health Dr Tiffany Hoyte revealed storage devices are being acquired this week to facilitate various vaccines.

TT is accessing vaccines through the World Health Organisation's (WHO) COVAX facility.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram met earlier this month with a representative from WHO's COVAX vaccination programme.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for the region but Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh has requested more "technical information" from the WHO.

The candidate vaccines for the region through COVAX are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sanofi.

Deyalsingh said recently, "The advantage is the Moderna vaccine can be stored at much higher temperatures than the Pfizer. The Pfizer can be stored at -70 degrees Celsius to -80 degrees Celsius…But the Moderna vaccine can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius for up to six months. So logistically, that is a huge improvement."

Moderna is a US biotechnology company, Pfizer is a US pharmaceutical corporation, AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company and Sanofi is a French pharmaceutical company.

Hoyte said, "Although we do not yet know because there are several vaccine candidates and we do not know which vaccine TT will receive, we are implementing storage capacity to cater for whichever vaccine is received.

"Currently in Tobago, our vaccine chillers are able to store vaccines within the temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius. On Thursday we are acquiring chillers for the vaccines that are -20 degrees Celsius as well as a chiller for the -70 degrees vaccine. Our cold storage facility for housing these chillers has already been insulated and prepped and ready."

Hoyte added that PCR testing has resumed on the island but because of limited text kits, it is reserved for people being admitted to the hospital.

She noted that testing is available in Tobago for people who require a negative covid19 test for international travel.

"We continue to facilitate persons who have to be tested for international travel. Once persons have selected the lab they are utilising and make their payment to the lab, call the hotline and you'll be given an appointment. At that appointment, upon presentation of the receipt, you are swabbed right here in Tobago, the courier sends swab to Trinidad and results are e-mailed."

Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine added, "Our capacity is growing and we are preparing. But I would rather to see a situation where we prepare and don't have to utilise that preparation but most importantly, we will have the vaccine coming soon. This is good news for us in TT, and a further layer of protection for our population. "


"Tobago prepares storage for covid19 vaccines"

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