Doctors and nurses in Trinidad and Tobago will begin receiving covid19 vaccinations from Wednesday.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the North-Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) in a statement by way of an invitation to the media to witness the rollout of the first batch.
This will be done at the Couva Multi-Training Hospital Facility and targets, in the first instance, health workers at covid19 facilities including the Arima, Caura and Couva hospitals, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, and the Ministry of Health’s step-down facilities.
The announcement came just a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.
The ministry received 2,000 doses of that vaccine from Barbados on Monday.
At a news conference on Wednesday last week, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said frontline healthcare workers would be the first to receive the vaccine when it arrived.
He said it would be the responsibility of the individual RHAs to distribute it to staff.
CEO of the NCRHA Davlin Thomas, in a brief interview with Newsday on Tuesday, said the authority will ensure the protection of its workers. He said he expects about 100 vaccines to be administered on Wednesday.
Newsday understands a form was circulated among NCRHA staff to see who would be willing to take the first batch of vaccines.
The authority, Thomas said, has been sensitising staff on the importance of the vaccine and it is “an ongoing exercise.”
He does not anticipate too many healthcare workers will refuse the vaccine.
He said when they received news of the initial threat in March of last year, when there was little information about the virus, staff were willing to work.
“The bold and brave said, ‘Yes.’ So now that we are willing to give the bold and brave sword and shield, we don’t expect too much pushback.”
Thomas said healthcare workers’ willingness to work during the pandemic showed depth of character.
“It takes a particular kind of person to say they will step into warfare. No one knew (about the virus) and they were willing.”
He said he was grateful to the ministry for taking steps to ensure the country’s first line of defence was taken care of.
One NCRHA doctor, who requested anonymity, said most healthcare workers are excited about the vaccine.
“We are expecting it to be a turning point in the pandemic,” he said, adding that when it becomes available to him, he would take it.
President of the TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) Idi Stuart said the association had not been informed of the vaccine rollout on Wednesday, but encouraged those who were sceptical about the vaccine to accept it.
“We as a country have to come out of covid19. We have to support the government in its rollout.”
He said he trusts the government would have taken all precautions to ensure the AstraZeneca vaccine is acceptable despite reservations.
Stuart said the association had concerns which it will address locally through the ministry, and internationally to the International Council of Nurses, its umbrella body.
He said after reviewing the research, the association was concerned about the vaccine’s low efficacy, which is between 61 and 63 per cent.
“We are concerned it may not pull us out of lockdown.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been distributed in several countries across the Caribbean including Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
A news report by the Antigua Observer on Saturday said nurses ithere were refusing the vaccine.
This story was originally published with the title "Trinidad covid19 vaccinations start Wednesday" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
The Ministry of Health will begin covid19 vaccinations in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, starting with frontline health workers at the North Central Regional Authority (NCRHA).
A release said the NCRHA will administer the first batch of the vaccines at the Couva Multi-Training Hospital Facility.
The immunisation process will start with health workers, specifically at the covid19 facilities at the Arima Hospital, Caura Hospital, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Couva Hospital Facility, as well as its step-down facilities.