The Health Ministry is awaiting a response from Pfizer-Biontech on their disposal mechanism for the 260,000 vaccines which expired on February 28, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said on Friday.
Speaking during Parliament in response to a question from Caroni East MP Dr Rishad Seecharan, Deyalsingh said the vaccines had not yet been destroyed.
“Before the vaccines can be destroyed, we have to write to Pfizer International to get their disposal mechanism and we have done that and we are waiting on their response.”
He said the vaccines did not cost TT any money as they had been donated by the US.
Deyalsingh outlined measures being taken to deal with the distribution of fake vaccination cards.
“The ministry is working with the police service to determine the prevalence of this practice. As of March 15, 2022, seven matters are before the police service, of which three people were charged with conspiracy to misbehave in public office and four other matters are currently being investigated.
“An inventory check is routinely conducted on the amount of vaccine cards issued, the health facilities and service providers with the number of first dose vaccines administered. Vaccine cards are issued only upon request by the nurse manager, based on the vaccines report and uptake through confirmation with the manager of the expanded programme on immunisation (EPI). In all cases, when vaccination cards are issued, there is documented evidence of receipt of cards by the designated health care personnel. Lastly, people in need of replacement cards are referred to the manager, EPI, for database validation, for confirmation of receipt of a covid19 vaccine information, and only thereafter a copy is issued.”
Deyalsingh said long covid was being treated at a variety of clinics throughout the health care system.
“In October 2020 an executive wellness clinic was established at the Arima General Hospital, where over 215 new patients were seen with long covid and there were 361 re-visits. In August 2021, the long covid19 clinic was established at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, where over 121 new patients were seen with long covid, and there were 99 re-visits. At the Sangre Grande Hospital, long covid patients are seen by the internal medicine team. At the Port of Spain General Hospital, long covid patients are seen by the internal medicine team at the long covid clinic, which is expected to be established by May 2022.”
He said there is continuous physician training and sensitisation on the signs, symptoms, and treatment of long covid, and continuous population level sensitisation, so patients can recognise and seek treatment for symptoms of long covid. He said part of the treatment encompasses mental health, recognising that long covid affects all organs of the body, including the brain.
Deyalsingh said there were a variety of referral processes to the clinics but the ministry preferred that patients be referred by a physician, or they were welcome to come to the health centres and register themselves.