Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Rishard Khan

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has expressed disappointment in the recently launched school vaccination drive.

Despite vaccines now being offered at schools as of Monday, he said only 14 children had capitalised on the opportunity as of Tuesday.

“That is pathetically low and I want to urge parents to take advantage of that (opportunity),” he said.

He cited data revealed by the head of the Paediatric Emergency Department at the Eric Williams’ Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Dr Joanne Paul, as proof children should be vaccinated.

The data showed no vaccinated child over 12 developed post-COVID complications such as Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) or swelling in the brain called encephalitis.

He also said the ministry is still trying to acquire doses of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate children between 5 and 11 years old.

He said this included bilateral talks with Pfizer and through agreements with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

“We have no firm date as yet as far as the bilateral talks are concerned which I was a party to,” he said.

He noted that they are awaiting further communication from the company at this time.

He said there is also no word on the arrival of a fresh batch of 150,000 Pfizer doses from the US government.

The first tranche of 75,000 doses was supposed to arrive by the end of the month, according to Deyalsingh in a previous press conference.

The country currently has around 200,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines designed for those 12 and up which are set to expire by the month’s end. They were initially carded for donation to other countries but it appears it will spoil on our hands.

“We started looking for countries to accept those Pfizer doses since the early part of January. We have had no takers to date. It’s too late now to donate them to anyone,” the minister said.