THE rollout of covid19 vaccines for children five-11 years old began on Wednesday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said.
Speaking at the virtual Health Ministry press conference, he said while the labelled expiry date was April 2022, the date has been extended to October 2022 by the manufacturer, Pfizer.
He said the same measure was taken with the shipment of Pfizer for adults which was received last year.
On Monday, TT received a shipment of 43,200 paediatric covid19 vaccines donated by the Kingdon of Spain.
“We will be vaccinating those children at over 30 sites from today and we will continue. The locations are a combination of the mass vaxx sites and the health centres. We have more than ample time to give you your first shot, and your second is due four to eight weeks after.
“We are one of the first, if not the first country in this region, to receive that. Other countries will receive, and we really thank the people of Spain.”
Deyalsingh said current vaccines can vaccinate about 20,000 children, but it was too soon to determine if and how many more vaccines would be needed for this age group.
Vaccines are available at the mass vaccination sites and health centres and parents or guardians should have with them a valid form of ID, the child's birth certificate and proof of relation to the child.
Deyalsingh said there has been a decrease in the number of covid19 cases at schools and the number of schools which required testing done.
“For the period May 16-22, there are 233 cases, so there has been a drop and the number of schools testing positive cases are 104, so there has been a drop too, and the number of schools testing is 116.”
Deyalsingh said covid19 booster doses were meant only for certain categories of people, until advised further by the World Health Organization (WHO).
He said the categories remained people over 60, regardless of health status; healthcare workers, regardless of age and health status; and the immuno-compromised, regardless of age and health status.
"The decision to administer the second booster to these groups is based on WHO recommendations, which we are sticking with and as I indicated, to do otherwise would not be scientific."
He stressed: "We are not going to administer vaccines because they are going to expire. What then happens in the case of a lawsuit? So we have always been guided by science, and we continue to be guided by science and the WHO. At this time, until WHO advice changes, we will not be vaccinating anybody because we have a surplus of vaccines. To do so may not be wise, it may be reckless and could lead to all sorts of legal troubles for the taxpayers of TT.”
The administration of the second Pfizer covid19 booster doses began on Friday, and to date, he said 1,967 people had been vaccinated.