Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has apologised for the vaccine fiasco last week, but said it was just one bad day.

After more than a year of mana­ging and attempting to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Trinidad and Tobago, Rowley admitted that the Government made a blunder by allowing walk-in vaccinations at health centres across the country.

In fact, the Prime Minister said during yesterday’s Covid-19 news conference, at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, that last Wednesday was “a total failure” for which he, as head of the Government, accepted full responsibility.

But that was just one day he said. And one bad day out of the past year and a half was not so bad, said Rowley.

What actually caused the problem? Rowley said it was a “communication problem” by the Government in reaching out to the wider population.

“...That problem was the communication system between those who needed to be vaccinated and those who were in fact going to get the vaccination.

“As head of the Government, I take responsibility for how the Government goes about its business, and this is part of the Government’s business and I take full responsibi­lity for it.

“I want to tell the country again, notwithstanding any flare-ups or any advice from any quarters, I am in this for the long haul and I intend to see the country through to a place of safe landing on this, so I am not going to be distracted by any intermittent failure or unreasonable expectations or responses,” said the Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, thousands of citizens, many over 60 years old and at higher risk of suffering fatal consequences from the virus if contracted, showed up at various health centres to get vaccinated.

This was a direct result of the Government informing this age group and those under 60 with non-communicable diseases that from that day, they were allowed to walk into health centres without any appointment to receive the vaccine.

But it all backfired.

Many of those who showed up were turned away while it was later revealed by Government that they did not have sufficient vaccines for a mass vaccination drive anyway.

Better days ahead 

In spite of this and in the haste to bring the country back to some level of normalcy quickly, Rowley said the Government went a bit too far and attempted to do a bit “too much with too little”.

“Wednesday was a bad day. It was a bad day in that the Government, through its agencies, through its Prime Minister, tried to do too much with too little. It was a bad idea to try to solve the problem of the registration programme, not reaching everyone who wanted to be registered, by simply removing that stricture of a registration and replacing it with, what one can call now, a mass vaccination exercise.

“We are in no position to carry on mass vaccination and, therefore, that ‘experiment’ of trying to do too much with too little could only have failed, and it has failed and we acknowledge that, and I as Prime Minister apologise to those who sought to work within that programme and did in fact experience what took place on Wednesday,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that the decision for the mass vaccination drive had nothing to do with the ability of the technical staff or scientific staff.

“It was fully at the level of the Government as to try to do as much as we can, as quickly as we can and with all the things we tried to do, this one did not work,” he said.

Notwithstanding what occurred, Rowley said he was confident that Trinidad and Tobago was still on track, and with the impending arri­val of hundreds of thousands of more vaccine doses expected in the country from as early as tomorrow, all will soon be well.

“Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. We have been doing reasonably well. In fact, we have been doing quite well.

“We will make sure that whatever vaccines we have will go to those in greatest need, and also in a way that utilises our best infrastructure (both) human and physical,” he said.

He said the vaccination drive in this country was even better than most Caricom countries and even worldwide, and provided figures to support his statement.

Again, he stressed that Wednesday “did not go well”, but the Ministry of Health will review and reconstruct the process to ensure it “never takes place again”.

“I want to acknowledge again that Wednesday did not go well, but we are not going to be throwing the towel because one day in a year and a half did not go well.

“I am confident that the future days will go very well,” he said.

The Prime Minister said a daytime curfew may be put in place on the Labour Day holiday on June 19.

He said the construction industry may have to stay closed for another two weeks, and adjusted hours would be announced for hardware stores.

The Public Health Regulations will also be extended until July 4, Rowley said.


Taxpayers have forked out close to $4 million in legal fees in the matter of Vertical Aviation LLC and the lease of the Sikorsky S76D helicopter by the former government.

Vertical Aviation had claimed the Government failed to satisfy its obligations under the lease by not paying rent and interest due for late rent payments, failed to replenish the security deposit after the aviation company applied the deposit funds to late rent payments, failed to enrol the aircraft in a tip-to-tail maintenance programme and did not maintain insurance for the aircraft.

Professor of molecular genetics and virology at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Christine Carrington says while there are yet no confirmed cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, it is only a matter of time before the highly transmissible variant is detected here.

Carrington was speaking during yesterday’s virtual news conference hosted by the Ministry of Health.

A 41-year-old woman remained in police custody yesterday, being questioned in connection with the murder of Maritime General and Fidelity Finance chairman and Piarco Airport corruption accused John Smith, 74, on Friday afternoon.

Around 4.30 p.m. on Friday, offi­cers of the Maraval Police Station responded to a call that there was a domestic dispute at a residence in Haleland Park, Saddle Road, Mara­val.

For decades, Trinidad and Tobago has battled a raging gang problem.

Successive governments and law enforcement have fought to reduce criminal organisations which have engaged in well-executed mafia-style illegal operations, including drug and gun running, money laundering, prostitution, extortion, and crimes like murders, robberies and even what are regarded as white-collar ventures.

THE manager at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) who cleared an employee of any wrongdoing following a complaint against him has signed an affidavit saying he was repeatedly called upon to change his findings in the matter.

He also said he was denied several requests to interview the Min­ister of Public Utilities for a “witness statement in the matter”.

It’s only a matter of time before Trini­dad and Tobago gets its first case of the Delta variant, as it’s more transmissible than the P1 (Brazilian) variant, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also warned on Thursday that it is inevitable the highly infectious Delta variant will reach T&T’s shores.

Recommended for you