Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

(flashback)First shot: Nurse Helena Peters administers the first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh at the St Joseph Enhanced Health Centre yesterday. He is the first Government minister to receive the vaccine.

—Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday all Covid-19 contact tracing protocols kicked in following Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis as it would have for any positive patient.

Deyalsingh also noted that National Security Minister Stuart Young was not in quarantine and was working.

Responding to questions during the Ministry of Health’s virtual media conference, he said as far as he was aware, Young chaired a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GP) on Tuesday.

The minister described Tuesday’s roll-out of Government’s national Covid-19 vaccination programme as a “tremendous success”, calling it possibly the most significant day in local history in terms of public health and public health interventions.

“In facing down a global pandemic which is now seen to be a one-in-a-hundred-year event, we started our national vaccination plan,” Deyalsingh said. “So that in itself is significant. Yes, there were some operational issues, as you can imagine, and we will face those down but, by and large, (Tuesday) was a tremendously successful day.”

Government commenced a vaccination programme on Tuesday with 33,600 AstraZeneca vaccines from the SKBioScience laboratory in South Korea.

The launch represented the first tranche of vaccines via the COVAX facility.

In February 2,000 vaccines from Barbados were used on healthcare workers.

Trinidad and Tobago expects to receive another 40,000 vaccines next Monday from the government of India and Deyalsingh was yesterday high in praise for Indian High Commissioner Arun Kumar Sahu for his role in acquiring the vaccines for this country.

1,153 vaccinated on first day 

The national vaccination exercise is being done at 21 sites across the country and is initially targeting healthcare workers and people over 60 years and those with non-communicable diseases.

One thousand, one hundred and fifty-three people took the vaccine on the first day and Deyalsingh congratulated T&T on a great response.

The one-day total surpassed the initial target of 1,000 vaccinations on the first day, Deyalsingh noted.

“What are some of the positives that we can take out from (Tuesday)? One, the public has faith in the vaccine,” Deyalsingh said. “There is a high level of vaccine acceptance in Trinidad and Tobago. That means we have an informed and intelligent public, and I want to congratulate the public. I want to congratulate Mr and Mrs Trinidadian and Mr and Mrs Tobagonian.”

He added: “Yesterday I took the vaccine myself leading from the front, as we say, with healthcare workers. And I’m totally glad to have been vaccinated. I personally trust the vaccine and have faith in the vaccine, otherwise I would not have taken it.”

The minister said he had felt no side effects.

“I am sure one of the questions I will be asked is did I experience any side effects, and the answer is no,” he said. “I had no fever, no headache, nothing. I spent a comfortable night. I have no pain at my injection site so I’m perfectly fine, but we do know some people experienced some minor side effects, and that is not to be minimised.”

Noting that side effects usually subside within 24 hours, he added: “So far we have administered over 2,000 vaccines including yesterday plus what we started with healthcare workers. And so far, in our analysis of the trend with those 2,000, we have not noticed any adverse effects. There have been some side effects but no adverse effects.

Deyalsingh wanted to encourage more people to take the vaccine, as supplies come in and as more vaccination sites are operationalised.

“When the team led by the (Chief Medical Officer) and the RHAs visited some of the sites in the inner city like Oxford Street, George Street and Woodbrook, they found that these health centres because they were in the city, they either had no parking or inside was too small to accommodate a safe amount of people being vaccinated,” he said.

“So we didn’t want to delay the project while we brought on three more sites, so we’ve been working over the past couple of weeks and we have looked at three other sites.”

It is hoped the site will be running by Saturday, granting access to people in those areas and hopefully pushing in increase in vaccinations, he said.

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