FIRST come, first served.
The Ministry of Health today launches its first no-appointment system for Covid-19 inoculation, which invites two vulnerable groups within the population as “walk-ins” to an initial 14 district health centres for their first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Some 20,000 vaccines out of China’s donation last month of 100,000 doses of its Sinopharm product are intended to form the first dose for those over the age of 60 and those under 60, but with comorbidities, who choose to access free vaccinations at 14 sites named yesterday by the North-Central, Eastern and North-Western Regional Health Authorities.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday the vaccines will be released, starting today, to some 36 district health centres over the next few days.
The vaccinations are expected to be ongoing unless otherwise announced by the ministry, which will be using all of the available Sinopharm doses as first shots, as a regular supply is now anticipated.
Added security, including the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and more customer service representatives, will be on hand at the various sites to ensure order and that all protocols are observed.
This will include ensuring there is no clustering, Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) chief executive officer Ronald Tsoi-a-Fatt said on the weekend. However, the rollout is anticipated to run smoothly, he had said.
Health centres under the ERHA rolling out their walk-in operations today are the Mayaro District Health Facility, Rio Claro Health Centre, Sangre Grande Enhanced Health Centre and the Toco Health Centre.
Under the NCRHA are the Arima District Health Facility, Chaguanas District Health Facility, La Horquetta Health Centre, St Joseph Enhanced Health Centre and the St Helena Health Centre.
The NWRHA will begin its rollout at the Barataria Health Centre, Carenage Health Centre, Diego Martin Health Centre and the Morvant Health Centre.
Another shipment, larger than the first donation, is expected from China by this Thursday, which will form the second doses for people vaccinated this and in the coming weeks.
Deyalsingh, who announced last Saturday that Government was to do away with the appointment system as of today, said yesterday it was expected that people would want to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons, and while “vaccine hesitancy” was being bandied about, this was not being reflected in the figures.
Speaking at the launch of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago’s (SATT) vaccination launch yesterday, Deyalsingh said the Government listened to feedback from demographic groups being targeted today—the elderly—whose primary concern was that their access to technology was limited.
Most such people do not have Internet access or WhatsApp, he said, hence the walk-in system.
“From tomorrow, they can just walk in, get vaccinated and go back home. Easy,” Deyalsingh said.
Walk-ins must present their national identifications cards and medical records/clinic cards to access the vaccines, a representative at the Chaguanas District Health Facility said yesterday.
As for those attempting to access their second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine ahead of the stipulated time, Deyalsingh said this won’t be accommodated.
Government launched its public programme on April 6, 2021, with AstraZeneca vaccines accessed through the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) COVAX Facility.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram announced last week that in the face of T&T’s high Covid-19 infection rate, the initial 12-week gap between doses was to be moved up to eight weeks.
Second-dose administration therefore begins this month, and Deyalsingh said yesterday some people have been trying to access within six weeks.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Deyalsingh said. “We advise them to wait the extra two weeks.”
Deyalsingh said more vaccines are to be distributed in partnership with the private sector in the coming weeks.
The ministry has allotted some 4,000 Sinopharm vaccines as first doses to SATT, which yesterday saw a robust response from its members’ staff at the Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas, vaccination site.
Up to 4 p.m., some 500 people had been vaccinated and observed, with recipients reporting no ill feelings and a pleasant and efficient service.
Deyalsingh said the ministry will this weekend target the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) through five health centres around the country.
It will also go into vaccinating bank workers, security officers and will allot vaccines to the construction sector, all of whom are working on their vaccination sites.
Deyalsingh was asked to address how the ministry is analysing the country’s increased Covid-19-related deaths and said this was being handled by a bureau led by Thoracic medical director at the Caura Hospital Dr Michelle Trotman.
“She is in charge of looking at the mortality data,” Deyalsingh said, just hours before the ministry’s last Covid-19 update yesterday afternoon showed that the local death toll had reached 599 people.
He said the team includes Principal Medical Officer of Institutions, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards and doctors from the various RHAs and “we are compiling that data to look at it”.