Terrence Deyal­singh

Terrence Deyal­singh

Trinidad and Tobago recognises only one combination of Covid-19 vaccines at this time.

Therefore, if you have been vaccinated with a mix of vaccines that is not approved in this country, you will not be considered vaccinated, and you will be subject to the same restrictions as a completely unvaccinated person when seeking entry into T&T.

Health Minister Terrence Deyal­singh gave this update yesterday, following complaints by ­several T&T nationals who said they were made to pay up to $17,000 to quarantine at a State-approved facility, despite being vaccinated with a mix of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

This mix of vaccines was approved in Canada due to a shortage of the Pfizer vaccine. Many travellers from that country have received a first dose of Pfizer and a second dose of Moderna.

Speaking during yesterday’s virtual news briefing, Deyalsingh said the only mix that is being recog­nised in T&T is if a person has a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and received the Pfizer vaccine as a second shot.

The Pfizer/Moderna combination is not approved.

“The current recommendation is to use the same product for both doses,” Deyalsingh said.

“So, if you got AstraZeneca first or Pfizer first, the recommendation is, as far as possible, to use the same one for your second dose. However, preliminary studies from a mixed vaccine schedule with Pfizer as the second dose following a first dose of AstraZeneca show a slightly increased but acceptable reactogenicity,” he said. Deyalsingh explained that “reactogenicity means the side effect profile because you don’t want to be mixing vaccines without authorisation that people have more side effects. So, that is one major reason why we have to be careful in following the bandwagon on mixing vaccines without evidence”.

Mental and

physical health issues

Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said T&T is ­being guided by science and will strictly follow and comply with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

On the issue of people coming in from Canada with the Pfizer/Moderna mix, Deyalsingh said every country is a sovereign state and can make their own rules on which mixes they approve.

“We are following and adhering to the WHO guidelines. And the current position as of now is that we recommend mixing of vaccines, but only if the first dose is AstraZeneca and your second dose is Pfizer and you wait two weeks,” he said.

Yesterday, the son of an elderly man who was required to go into quarantine despite having the Pfizer/Moderna mix issued an appeal to the ministry to take a closer look at his case and allow him to complete his quarantine at home.

The man, who is a stage four cancer patient, is currently on day six of his quarantine at a hotel.

His son told the Express the hotel is not equipped to handle the man’s specific medical needs, and the past few days of quarantine have been challenging. He said someone has to be with him around the clock at the hotel so the cost of the quarantine is signifi­cantly higher. He has had to pay $17,000 to quarantine at the hotel, he said.

He added that the environment has impacted his father’s mental and physical health over the past few days.

“He is disoriented, not eating and drinking, and is at risk of falling. His mental state has deterio­rated as well. I need to be with him 24/7, which has me physically, mentally and financially drained and exhausted,” he said.

He pleaded with the ministry to allow his father to complete his quarantine at his home, which has been suitably set up for his needs.

Patient/doctor decision

Questioned on the issue yesterday, Deyalsingh would only say “that is something that has to be dealt with clinically.

“Our policies are in place. If you are unvaccinated by Trinidad and Tobago standards, you have to quarantine for two weeks at your expense, as other countries have done for their own citizens. Canada, England, all other countries have done similar things and in the Caribbean.”

Asked what happens to a person after they leave quarantine if their mix of vaccines is not recognised in T&T, Deyalsingh said they should consult with their doctor on whether they can be vaccinated again with any vaccine that is available in this country.

“That is a private decision, a decision to be made between the physician and the patient,” he said.

Deyalsingh said he would also speak to the relevant persons on why there is no option to select a mix of vaccines, even the approved one, on the online form to register for the TTravel Pass.

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