Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry is in negotiations with Pfizer-BioNTech to buy its covid19 vaccine for five-11 year olds. He said a non-disclosure agreement has been signed with the company.
Speaking at the ministry’s virtual media conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said the ministry is exploring several areas for acquiring the vaccines.
“We are in the marketplace, actively pursuing the special paediatric formula, which at this time seems to be what we will have to use. We are confident that we’re in a pretty good place, I can’t disclose the nature of the conversations but I assure you that we are exerting a lot of force and pressure across all avenues to ensure that we get vaccine stocks.
“We are also pursuing initiatives through CARPHA (the Caribbean Public Health Agency) for a collective procurement of the same vaccine from the Caribbean region, so we are exploring all alternatives to procure these vaccines for the five to 11 age group. As soon as we have word of when and how many dose and shipment particulars, we will come to you.”
Deyalsingh said the ministry will be holding consultations with stakeholders such as the National Parent Teachers Association and the Paediatric Society on the issue of vaccinations for the age group.
He said since the World Health Organization’s announcement last Friday that it had granted an emergency use license to Pfizer for its vaccine, the ministry had held several technical meetings.
“We had technical meetings with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), CARPHA and others to dissect what the communique said. The information we have is that approval has been granted to the special paediatric formula, which is a lower dosage, a different dosage, the buffer and the packaging are different.
“Now that we know the formula in the interim guidelines is the special paediatric formula, we are also liaising with the Paediatric Society, and those talks will be ongoing. We will also convene meeting via the office of the CMO with other stakeholders like the NPTA and so on.”
The Health Minister also confirmed that the ministry still has 298,162 doses of the adult Pfizer vaccine in hand, which are due to expire at the end of February.
CARPHA technical co-ordinator Dr Rian Extavour said shelf lives are determined by the study of stability over time.
“Usually the manufacturers in their documentation will give an expiry date that ends the month before the study would have said they cannot guarantee it. I want to highlight that on the first of the next month, vaccines or the medicines don’t simply deteriorate 100 per cent. There is a period of time over which the manufacturer say they can’t guarantee it past a certain date, so out of safety, this is the date we give you. But they don’t simply deteriorate and fall apart. We do advise people to adhere to the expiry date and the ministries are guided accordingly through the product information in its use.”