Just over 1,100 public servants have been vaccinated this week, as Government's works on a plan to create safe zones at public offices, and furlough unvaccinated employees.
On Saturday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said between Monday and Friday, 1,109 public servants accessed covid19 vaccines at the dedicated vaccination sites of the Government Plaza in Port of Spain, and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts.
However, he said other public servants could have gone elsewhere to get vaccinated. According to the Office of the Chief Personnel Office, there are 86,000 public servants monthly and daily-rated).
As efforts continue to increase the vaccination rate, Deyalsingh, during the virtual covid19 update, also announced the start of the second month of the national covid19 booster programme.
Those who received their second dose of the AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccines between July 1 to July 30, 2021, and Johnson and Johnson dose between November 7 and December 7, 2021, are scheduled to get their booster shots between January 8 and February 5.
He said 674,197, or 48.2 per cent of the population, completed their vaccine schedule and were on their way to being fully vaccinated, while 88,083 people got their booster shots.
Dr Kiran Suraj, head of the Adult Emergency Department at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), joined with the minister in urging members of the public to get vaccinated.
He said similar to the national statistics, that 86 per cent of patients admitted into hospital with the virus were are unvaccinated, so most of those presenting to the emergency department’s covid19 areas were not fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the fully vaccinated typically had a milder case of the virus.
He explained that one of the ways doctors gauged the severity of illness of a patient was by their oxygen requirements. So, on Saturday morning, the department calculated the average amount of oxygen used by non-intensive care unit (ICU) patients in the EWMSC’s covid19 areas.
“What we found is those who are unvaccinated have an average of 7.6 litres per minute of oxygen utilisation whilst the few that are vaccinated in our hot pathways that are not at ICU level, don’t require any supplemental oxygen.”
He said the EWMSC had 71 oxygen tanks available for use and trained people to check patients’ oxygen levels, as well as the amount of oxygen in tanks on a regular basis. It also had eight oxygen concentrators which could generate low levels of oxygen to patients who did not need as much.
Deyalsingh added that last year the ministry, through the Emergency Operations Centre, installed three Victank units – large gas storage tanks – at the Point Fortin Area Hospital, at the St James Medical Complex, and at another location.
“We worked with our major oxygen supplier, Massy Gases to put in what is call Victanks, which is a big storage unit for oxygen, which is then piped automatically to the patients, reducing the need for manual intervention to monitor and switch over from tank to tank.”
Suraj said a “significant proportion” of patients had severe disease and needed a lot of oxygen as well as some degree of mechanical ventilation. This was because many of them take too long to go to the hospital, while others were taking unapproved therapies such as hydroxychloroquine.