Bold vaccine plan brings hope

A nurse prepares a dose of a covid19 vaccine at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) vaccination site in this May 29 photo.  Photo by Angelo Marcelle
A nurse prepares a dose of a covid19 vaccine at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) vaccination site in this May 29 photo. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

On Saturday, the Prime Minister announced a further tightening of restrictions, in the form of earlier curfew hours on the weekend during June.

As tough as that news was, Dr Rowley framed it in the context of restrictions that seem to be working to reduce confirmed covid19 cases, leading to a minor but welcome dip in numbers.

Dr Avery Hinds estimated that a projected caseload of 80,000 was lowered to the current 25,000 because of the additional restrictions.

That's particularly good news given the tone of the warnings at recent press conferences that projected a sharply rising curve that made mayhem out of May.

The earlier curfew won't be the only change the public can expect in June, as the government hopes, with the imminent arrival of thousands of vaccines, to inoculate as many as half a million people.

Under a new mantra, "vaccinate and operate," the PM sought the co-operation of the private sector in organising its staff to be ready for vaccination.

On Thursday, additional doses of Sinopharm vaccines are expected, with shipments of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the Africa Medical Supplies Platform scheduled to begin arriving shortly thereafter.

The TT Manufacturers’ Association took the lead yesterday with a mass vaccination at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas. The construction industry, Supermarkets Association and Pharmacy Association have been allocated thousands of doses, with other sectors to follow.

But the government also faces a potential stalling factor: vaccination hesitancy, which in some cases means outright refusal.

Also, while there is demand right now for access to any vaccine, the range of options offered by the wide net cast in the search may confuse members of the public. Some may make the mistake of thinking themselves spoiled for choice at a buffet of brand options.

To meet that challenge, the government must immediately mount an education campaign that inoculates against widespread misinformation on that front.

It's important for the public to understand that immediately available preventive measures are preferable to waiting, which might lead to the alternative: a repeat of May's staggering surge in cases and deaths.

Building a critical mass of vaccinated workers in the private and public sector is an important step, but the bold goal of vaccinating 300,000 people in a month demands more planning than has been evident in the vaccination programme so far.

In addition, with the approaching end of the appointment system and vaccines offered on a first-come, first-served basis to those eligible, there needs to be a ramping-up of crowd-management capabilities at health centres and the planned mobile units.

But overall the news is hugely welcome. It has been evident for some time that vaccines are the only way out of the local and global predicament, and at last it seems TT may have a workable exit plan.

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"Bold vaccine plan brings hope"

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