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Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh bounces elbows with medical personnel through a screen during his visit to the Couva Hospital, yesterday.

Just over a week after public servants were told that they will not be paid if they are not vaccinated by mid-January, the rate of employee vaccination has increased at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA).

Davlin Thomas, CEO of the NCRHA revealed this yesterday during a visit with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and other officials at the Couva Hospital.

While this news pleased the minister, he was hoping that more people would take the vaccine.

He said, “I am heartened to hear the CEO said that in recent weeks, I assume that the number of vaccinations, the percentage at the NCRHA, across the board, has gone up from 48 per cent to 65 per cent, that is excellent news. It means that the message to health care workers about being vaccinated is getting through a little, bit late but better late than never and we are heartened by this and hopefully this will snowball and more and more people will get vaccinated.”

Noting that Friday was “a particularly bad day for us in health” with 37 people losing their lives to COVID-19, he reiterated that the majority of people who have died so far were unvaccinated.

“So the message has to continue to be if we are to come out of this phase of the pandemic and we move into the third year around the world, this is a global phenomenon. Countries are now reeling from their fourth wave countries are now reeling from the Omicron wave is crippling health care systems across the globe. For us to prevent that we must move to vaccinations we must move to social distancing and wearing masks,” he added.

The minister reminded the population that the virus would not rest on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Ole Year’s or New Year’s Day.

“What you are seeing around the world and in T&T is people trying get back to a state of normalcy which I understand we can’t be too hard on people, but in doing that we still have to be cognisant that non-adherence to simple public health measures will land you here (hospital).”

While people are looking for an escape, he reminded them that the Omicron variant is crippling health care systems across the world.

“So whilst I understand the need for people to go out I still urge caution,” he added. Thomas congratulated staff not just for their vaccination thrust but for their efforts and work.

Speaking on behalf of doctors at the cold zone and the hot zone at the hospital, Dr Salisha Sankat urged the population to take the jab.

“Vaccines save lives and I’d like to stress that the amount of patients that we have been seeing here at the hospital are unvaccinated. That is our Christmas wish from all the doctors in the hot zone,” she said.