Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram has said there were eight paediatric covid19 cases in hospital as of Wednesday, and noted a concern over the rising number of paediatric cases being recorded.
Parasram was speaking during the Ministry of Health’s virtual covid19 press conference on Wednesday.
He said one of the cases was in the intensive care unit (ICU) and the other seven were below the age of 12. Children that age are not eligible for vaccination in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We note it as a concern on the back of the omicron (variant), and looking at the rest of the world, paediatric cases are filling up in the US and other places.”
Parasram said with the increase in omicron cases, it will become the dominant variant in this country within the next week or two.
He said 25 per cent of the variants of concern being recorded are omicron and 75 per cent are delta.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said while people have been calling for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to children between five and 11, as the vaccine has been approved for use in minors in the US, it cannot be done in TT at this time.
“There are two vaccines before WHO (the World Health Organization) for EUL (Emergency Use Listing) or EUA (Emergency Use Authorisation) for five-11: both Sinopharm and Pfizer.
“A lot of people are asking why we don’t give five-11 children the vaccine.
"We can’t. It is not legally permissible. It is not clinically permissible.”
He said the dosage for the five-11 age group is different from the strength currently being administered to adults.
He also said the buffer – which keeps the vaccine at a similar pH to the body – in the adult dosage that is used to ensure the stability of the vaccine is different from the buffer in the paediatric dosage.
He also said the packaging is different.
“We cannot use what we have. We have to wait for EUL or EUA approval for the paediatric version. As soon as it is approved, and supplies are available we will bring it in for that cohort.”
He said the ministry recently increased the capacity for caring for children with covid19 using a Heritage Petroleum building, which will house eight children in south Trinidad, and there is already a dedicated facility for children in Arima.
Deyalsingh also announced the rollout of the February covid19 booster vaccine schedule, which is available on the ministry’s website and social media pages.
Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said with the additional movement during the Christmas season and the introduction of the omicron variant, the covid19 numbers are likely to rise, but the ministry needs more time before it can predict how the number of cases will increase.
He said the ministry is working alongside the Ministry of Sport on a policy for outdoor sports, currently banned except for national teams.