Junior Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian looks on as her son Ixigh receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima, yesterday.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said she was heartened by the fast start to the rollout of Pfizer vaccines for students yesterday.

Despite yesterday’s gloomy weather, it was a bright start to the Government’s student vaccination programme, aimed at arming the vulnerable group with a layer of protection as the physical reopening of school inched closer.

According to Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, the assembly of parents and students was a step in the right direction in getting children back into classrooms.

“The turnout is excellent and I’m hearing of long lines at the heliport, so I’m hearing about a good turnout across the 14 sites.”

The minister accompanied her two children to the COSTAATT Port-of- Spain campus yesterday morning to get them vaccinated.

However, there are children yet to receive the green light from their parents, a risk the minister said she was not willing to take.

“If my children get sick, I will not even be able to go into the hospital with them and offer them that comfort and be by their bedside and the prospect of that drove me to say that is the better,” she said.

The Government’s announcement to vaccinate students between the ages of 12-18 last week, was met with some pushback from parents who challenged the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Head of the Concerned Parent Movement, Clarence Mendoza, had said his membership was sceptical about the information about the vaccine.

But according to Gadsby-Dolly, that hesitancy will not debar students from returning to the classroom, at least for now.

“There’s no call to show your vaccination status at this time. I don’t know who is vaccinated around me, it’s the situation in the country and likely the situation in the schools.”

Over at the National Academy for the Performing Arts’ (NAPA) vaccination site, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce of TT, US Charge d’ Affairs Shante Moore said he was encouraged by the turnout.

“I was initially worried that the rain would prevent people from coming out. That has not been the case. To see so many people waiting in the audience and so many waiting to get their vaccines, that means a lot.

Meanwhile, AMCHAM president Caroline Toni-Sirju Ramnarine said special accommodations were made at the facility to cater to the requirements of the younger vaccine population.