Dr. Faith B. Yisrael, deputy political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP). Image courtesy PDP.
CAMILLE McEACHNIE

The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) is calling out the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA), run by Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine, for its COVID-19 vaccination roll-out policy, saying it is inconsistent with the national vaccination plan.

So far, Tobago has received 3,200 doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Two hundred in March and 3,000 last week.

According to the national policy, the first phase of the program involves vaccinating healthcare workers and persons over 60 with non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, who are more susceptible to COVID-19.

In a release on April 9, the PDP says: “The THA/TRHA erred in its decision to move away from the National policy of vaccinating our most vulnerable citizens first.”

The PDP cites the 2011 population census which stated that more than 6,000 persons over the age of 60 years are on the island. And one of the PDP’s deputy leaders Dr. Faith B. Yisrael pointed out that the level of non-communicable diseases is high in that age group, so they need vaccination.

Dr. Yisreal, who has a doctorate in public health, and behavioral and community health, notes that the TRHA is “missing the mark” with the vaccination roll-out plan.

She says using an online registration platform puts the elderly who are “not tech-savvy” at a disadvantage.

The PDP suggested the TRHA should have used clinical records to identify vulnerable persons, offering them telephone registration.

During the early stages of the vaccination plan, TRHA officials said frontline workers and persons over 60 years with comorbidities would be vaccinated first.

On April 8, in a press release, the TRHA said while frontline workers and those over 60 years are first in line for the vaccine, it is open to everyone over 18 years.

It said vaccinations expire at the end of next month and the second dose must be given eight weeks after the first.