The Ministry of Health spent $480 million on the country's covid19 response since the beginning of the pandemic.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh thanked taxpayers for their contributions that went toward infrastructure, human resources and consumables including building and upgrading facilities, paying for quarantine, and buying equipment and personal protective equipment.
“It’s a big undertaking and all of it has been provided at absolutely no cost to the covid patient. But the taxpayer, and we must thank the taxpayer for this... The taxpayer has rushed to the rescue of TT to the tune of $480 million, that’s almost half a billion TT dollars.
“And that number, is it sustainable? We will have to continue to provide it. But think about what that money could have done for other aspects of health care.”
Speaking at the ministry’s virtual covid19 press conference on Saturday, he also announced that betting shops under the Bookmakers Association of TT would be allowed to open in October as a part of the TT Safe Zone initiative. Betting shops will join gyms, restaurants, cinemas and private members clubs which would be run by vaccinated staff and open to vaccinated customers.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram added that hospitals in the parallel health care system across the country were at 35 per cent capacity and there were nine paediatric cases in those hospitals, all at ward level and stable.
Adults go after Pfizer, slowdown among teens
And although the vaccination of children with the Pfizer vaccine has slowed down over the past week, adults continue to rush to get it.
And while adults getting vaccinated is a positive step, Deyalsingh is encouraging parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated before the vaccines expire.
On September 3 the Prime Minister announced 50,000 Pfizer doses would be allocated to members of the general public to vaccinate 25,000 people. Since then about 15,000 adults were vaccinated with Pfizer, which included 444 health care workers and 366 pregnant women.
At the press conference, Deyalsingh said, “Since we opened up the Pfizer to the general public this week, and I don’t want the public to be misled by the numbers, many more adults now are taking advantage of the Pfizer vaccines as opposed to children. And while that is good for the adults, it is not so good for the children.”
He said of the 90,000 school-aged children in the country, 33,540 got their first dose of Pfizer, and that number included 230 migrants. When the vaccination of children ages 12-18 began on August 18, the daily uptake was around 3,400 but on Thursday and Friday the uptake was 550 and 549 respectively.
With about 60,000 doses of Pfizer left reserved for children, he encouraged parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible to protect their children, especially from the delta variant, to allow them to return to physical school, and for their lives to return to some degree of normalcy.
“Your window of opportunity to access the Pfizer vaccine will start to close. Because of expiry date issues we have to administer your first dose by around the middle of October to the end of October, because we have to administer your second dose within three weeks and these vaccines expire at the end of November.”
He added that the vaccination status of teachers and the details of the roll out of vaccinations at schools would be handled by the Ministry of Education.
In addition, on Friday alone, with the outreach programme, 318 people were vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
At The Falls at Westmall, Long Circular Mall and Starlite Shopping Plaza in Port of Spain, 75 people were vaccinated while 73 were vaccinated at Trincity Mall. Sixty-eight were vaccinated at City Gate, 26 were vaccinated at C3 Mall, 64 at Gulf City Mall in South Trinidad, and 12 at Lowlands Mall in Tobago.
'Tobago response disappointing'
Expressing disappointment at the low vaccine uptake in Tobago, he addressed the unvaccinated.
“The persons in Tobago who are encouraging you not to be vaccinated, they will not be there for you when you are ill. They will not be proving the hospital space, and Tobago is already challenged. They will not mind your family if you die. They don’t have your best interests at heart. So I’m appealing to citizens who reside in Tobago to come out and get vaccinated.”
He added that in the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October, there were plans to coordinate with members of Parliament and business associations to get people vaccinated in Port of Spain, Tunapuna, Sangre Grande, and central and south Trinidad.
North West Regional Health Authority CEO Salisha Baksh also reported that as part of the RHA's outreach initiative, 884 people were vaccinated at places of worship, malls, coastal areas, community centres and City Gate in Port of Spain.
The RHA also partnered with Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds to allow people to visit the Beetham Gardens Community Centre, St Barb’s Basketball Court and the Laventille Rhythm Section on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm to be vaccinated. The RHA planned to go into more communities at the end of the month including the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, supermarkets and major markets.
In addition, those who got their first vaccine doses at the NWRHA drive through and were scheduled to be vaccinated over the weekend could visit the Paddock until 6 pm since the drive-through, now located at the National Stadium, was closed over the weekend.
Deyalsingh announced that 543,072 people got their first dose of a covid19 vaccine while 429,480 got their second. Also, 9,011 people received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, bringing the total number of fully vaccinated people to 438,491.
He said, with the high vaccine availability in TT, by now most people should have been vaccinated and no one should be dying. Yet, he asked people not to get numb to the deaths being announced every day.
“These are real people, these are not statistics, these are real families every day being plunged into a state of mourning.”
NWRHA vaccines distribution
AstraZeneca: first dose – 18,719 ; second dose – 15,522
Sinopharm: first dose – 59,663 ; second dose – 55,543
Pfizer: first dose – 6,004 ; second dose – 1,570
Johnson & Johnson – 1,457
Total: first dose – 84,386 ; second dose – 72, 635