Tobago vaccine policy different from Trinidad's

Assemblyman Kelvon Morris. -
Assemblyman Kelvon Morris. -

Electoral representative for Black Rock/ Whim/ Spring Garden Kelvon Morris is denying that he got a covid19 vaccine in breach of the rollout policy outlined by the Ministry of Health.

He was responding to a newspaper report which accused him of jumping ahead of healthcare workers and people 60 and above with non-communicable diseases, who are eligible to be vaccinated in the first phase.

Speaking with Newsday on Thursday, Morris said, “No, I have not taken the vaccine as yet.

“On April 7 I signed up, which is online on the TRHA (Tobago Regional Health Authority) website that was circulated for the public...and I am awaiting an appointment date. Once it becomes available to me, through the regular process, I will be taking the vaccine.”

He said he welcomes the vaccination process and is encouraging everyone to be vaccinated.

“This is about the safety and us getting back to normalcy. We’ve seen how badly affected families and their businesses have been because of this pandemic, and the vaccine is one of the surest ways of helping us to be inoculated as a population and eventually get back to some form of normalcy where we can open the borders and businesses can reopen fully.”

However, the THA Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, in a press release, said in Tobago, while frontline workers are a priority, as well as people 60 and over, the vaccination process is different from that in Trinidad. In Tobago, it is open to anyone over 18.

It said, “When registration initially started, it was recognised that at the pace of registration there would have been a challenge to administer all the doses by the expiry date of the vaccines. Therefore, a system was devised to ensure that none of the vaccines remain on hand post-May month end. We must keep in mind that the vaccines expire at the end of May.”

The division said Tobago has opened the vaccine to anyone at this stage for another reason as well as the expiry date of the vaccine and the eight-week time frame to administer the second dose.

“It is useful to note that in order for a second dose to be administered within the required eight-week period, the first dose must be administered as soon as possible.”

It added that there are 3,000 doses to be administered in this round and approximately 2,200 people have since applied. Seniors and frontline staff who wish to obtain vaccines will get vaccinated, once they are willing.

“This is a voluntary exercise and, although there is a priority listing, not all who are considered priority will come forward because of fear and suspicion.

“Vaccines are a scarce commodity and are difficult to get, therefore our system must take into consideration the prevailing circumstances and the realities. Wastage at this time is not encouraged. Our focus now is on ensuring that all dosages are administered by the end of May and that eventually at least over 60 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

“In that regard, we are heartened that more vaccines will arrive into the country by next week so that the process can continue with some level of predictability.”

The division said while there are still fears from the general public, people are signing up on a steady basis to receive the vaccines, adding that so far Tobago has managed to vaccinate over 150 people per day at the three health centres in Roxborough, Scarborough and Canaan.It's even welcoming people who just turn up at vaccination centres, explaining, “The public must note that once a vial is opened it must be used within a six-hour period. Sometimes persons who are booked may not show up for appointments”

Last Wednesday, TT received 33,600 doses of AztraZeneca vaccines in the first tranche from the World Health Organization’s Covax facility. Of that number, Tobago got 3,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 1,500 people.


"Tobago vaccine policy different from Trinidad’s"

More in this section