Trinidad and Tobago’s Covid-19 vaccination roll-out programme will begin on April 6.
This is provided that the delivery of 33,600 vaccines from the COVAX facility arrive as scheduled.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday that the COVAX shipment is due to arrive on Tuesday at 6.10 p.m.
The vaccines are currently en route to Trinidad and Tobago from the AstraZeneca manufacturer in South Korea.
Deyalsingh said the shipment has to go from South Korea to Brussels then to Amsterdam, then to Miami before the last leg of the journey to Trinidad.
He noted that “many things can happen” along the way to delay the arrival, but the current estimated date of delivery is March 30.
“If everything goes according to plan, if all the flights are on time, if there are no weather delays or anything like that,” he explained.
Once the vaccines arrive, Deyalsingh said they will be stored in two facilities. Half will be stored at C40 in Chaguaramas and the other half at the newly built chiller at the Couva Hospital.
“This is to spread risk,” he explained.
“Just in case one site goes down, we don’t lose everything. Even though both sites have back-up generators and alarms and all of that. We are just being ultra careful.”
Deyalsingh said 3,000 doses will be shipped to Tobago on Thursday and the remainder distributed to 21 sites across Trinidad for distribution to the public.
Only 16,800 vaccines will be administered, as the vaccine must be given in two doses.
The other half will be reserved for recipients to receive their second shot within four to six weeks.
Deyalsingh said the vaccination drive will continue with frontline healthcare workers being vaccinated first.
One thousand healthcare workers have already been vaccinated from the batch of 2,000 vaccines from Barbados last month.
Elderly in line
Elderly people with non-communicable diseases will also be targeted in this phase.
“Simultaneously we will start to vaccinate those persons over 60 in our non-communicable diseases clinics in the public healthcare sector,” Deyalsingh noted. “Those persons are already known to us and they will be vaccinated on their clinic days. We also plan on the non-clinic days to open it up to members of the general public over 60 with NCDs, but by appointment only.”
Along with the COVAX delivery, T&T is also awaiting the supply of 40,000 AstraZeneca vaccines donated by India and 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to receive his shot from the batch of COVAX vaccines.
Asked yesterday whether he had a preference for which vaccine he would take, Rowley said he was comfortable to take any vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“My point of reference is WHO certification and authorisation. That is good enough for me. I’ve seen in certain countries where persons are refusing AstraZeneca and they want Pfizer. Those are brand names. As I said from the beginning, I trust the science and I trust the infrastructure at the WHO that if a clearance is given, that clearance would be based on appropriate scientific involvement. So on that basis, I will take what is available.”