As the country experiences a surge in hospitalisation and deaths, and omicron cases continue to rise, RC priest Fr Martin Sirju is pleading with parents to get vaccinated to provide a measure of safety for their children.
At the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain,during the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, on Tuesday morning, Sirju encouraged unvaccinated parents to reconsider their decision.
The Ministry of Health announced the detection of this country’s first omicron variant case on December 13. Since then a total of 11 omicron cases have been confirmed.
Trinidad and Tobago entered the month of December with 2,158 covid19 deaths. By December 28 over 700 more people had died of complications of the virus. Up to Tuesday afternoon, the country’s total covid19 cases stood at 90,364.
Making note of the high hospitalisation rate among children, according to Health Ministry figures, Sirju said parents now have “a more sacred responsibility to protect children. And one way of doing that at this time is to get vaccinated. Prevent is better than cure and prevention is our best means by taking the vaccine to allow us to protect our children. We must take full advantage of that opportunity."
And for this season he encourages parents to give their children the gift of safety.
“Parents give their children toys at Christmas time, (and) certainly protecting children is a priceless gift in itself – more precious than any toy you can provide.”
He called on parents to strongly consider their children when deciding to take the covid19 vaccine.
“Some things we may do for ourselves, we may not like to do it, but we do. We cannot force this down anybody’s throat, because that always results in hostility. But as much as possible, to reverse the infection rate, I think people who don’t want the vaccine should reconsider.
“We also need to remember that children never asked to come into the world. Parents make that decision. So once children have been brought into the world, parents have a fundamental responsibility to protect their lives as much as possible.
That was a very broad category, he said.
"But in relation to the virus, parents have their reason why they do not want to be vaccinated – but it is not an individual story. From a Christian point of view, there is no greater love than for a person to lay down his life for his friends. We already have the health care workers doing that: we should not make their job any difficult."
In celebrating the Holy Innocents, he said, "We think of ways children suffer and are at a disadvantage in which their human rights are violated.
“With the spread of covid19, the lives of our children will only be endangered and we can control that. So we need to be more open and understanding of the vaccination, and then make a further step to have ourselves vaccinated to protect the nation's children."
Sirju also talked about the importance of equality in education, especially during the covid19 pandemic.