Dr Roxanne Mitchell, acting general manager, Primary Care Services, says the Tobago Regional Health Authority has the capacity to monitor at least 50 people a day for allergic reactions once they have received the covid19 vaccine.
On Saturday, Tobago received its first batch of 200 Oxford-AstraZeneca covid19 vaccines, which was distributed to some 100 frontline healthcare professionals on the island.
The distribution came three days after 100 healthcare workers from the North-Central Regional Health Authority also received the vaccines at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility as a safeguard against contracting covid19.
After Tobago’s healthcare workers have been vaccinated, the second batch of the vaccine will be available to people suffering from non-communicable diseases as well as those over 60.
Mitchell assured the TRHA is equipped to deal with people who experience allergic reactions and other conditions as a result of the vaccine.
“With regard to the monitoring of clients, yes we are,” she said.
“With regard to the covid19 disease, we are monitoring persons in terms of primary and secondary contacts on a daily basis. In some cases twice a day. That mechanism has been tried.
“So, we do have the staffing and we do have the ability to ramp up with regard to monitoring.”
Mitchell said the authority’s surveillance unit has been strengthened to provide continuous monitoring for “adverse events” related to the vaccine.
She said the first group of doctors and nurses who took the vaccine on Saturday were immediately monitored.
“Any immediate reactions in terms of allergies will take place within the first ten to 15 mins. And that why we have people being monitored and that will continue.”
She added: “That also affects our scheduling of vaccines because you have to be able to monitor the vaccines adequately and hence the reason why our vaccine administration capacity would be 50.
“We can confidently manage a maximum of 50 persons a day with regard to monitoring for adverse reactions.”
Mitchell said the TRHA has given itself a timeframe of one week to monitor people for any delayed immediate reactions.
She said people will be given a number when they have been vaccinated so that the authority can keep track.
However, Mitchell said there is a tendency to think that when a plan is written on paper, it must go exactly as is.
“Vaccinations are not new. We have done this. My nurses are tried. They have been doing this forever.
“But what we are doing now is to ensure public safety, ensure the mechanisms work. So that we will be monitoring to ensure and if we see any adverse reactions, we will do the needful in terms of reporting it nationally and internationally going forward.”