Trinidad and Tobago finally begins the rollout of the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines today. The vaccines were donated to this country by Barbados out of a batch that was donated by the government of India at the request of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley to that island.
While some in this country believe that the COVID numbers are declining and the vaccine may now be a moot point, the fact is that this is a significant development in the fight against COVID-19 and citizens are encouraged to be vaccinated when more doses become available because the virus remains a real and true threat to citizens.
So far 138 people have died as a result of the virus. That number, though low in comparison to world statistics, is still too high.
There has been a level of fear by many in the population and even among some health workers about the Astra Zeneca Vaccine, but on Monday the World Health Organization gave emergency listing to the two versions of the vaccine, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through the COVAX facility.
Today frontline workers employed at the Ministry of Health COVID facilities at the Arima Hospital, Caura Hospital, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Couva Hospital Facility, as well as its step-down facilities throughout the region, will be the first to be immunised.
Doctors around the world have been advocating that immunisation against the vaccine is the best way to get out of the pandemic.
This was a point driven home to citizens on Monday night by Dr Farley Cleghorn MD, MPH, a scientist based in Washington who observed that the only way to get back to some semblance of normalcy is getting citizens vaccinated, the alternative he said is to permanently lock down the borders.
While the first vaccine to be rolled out is AstraZeneca, there is every chance this country will also benefit from other vaccines, but Dr Cleghorn emphasised that when it comes to cases of severe diseases the AstraZeneca vaccine will work very well in protecting people.
There’s been some confusion over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but reports indicate that its efficacy with a standard, two-dose schedule is 62 per cent.
The fact is that the vaccine is finally here and yesterday the THA indicated that the island will get 30,000 doses by February 25.
We feel confident that the rollout of the vaccines will be successful and that citizens will put their fears behind them and once the vaccine becomes available the average citizen will ensure that they get vaccinated.
The option without the vaccine is just unthinkable.
The government has spent millions on vaccines for citizens.
In December last year, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the country that Trinidad and Tobago had signed up with COVAX.
T&T he said had paid a down payment of $1.477M for vaccines.
Dr Rowley indicated then that the country had pre-ordered vaccines to cover 33 per cent of the population or 461,000 people, at a cost of $7M.
These vaccines are to be rolled out free of cost to citizens and we remain hopeful that the average citizens would see the benefit of getting vaccinated once it gets here in the quantities ordered.
T&T has done well thus far in keeping COVID-19 in check.
We can do lots better if the population is vaccinated.