More than 2,500 manufacturing sector workers showed up at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas to receive their first dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 injection at the start of a public/private sector vaccination drive.
The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) collaborated with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Trade to facilitate the process.
When the Express visited the Divali Nagar site at 10 a.m., workers were spaced out and volunteers and doctors were supervising the process for people to be vaccinated.
By 10 a.m., 300 employees had already received shots in arms.
The vaccination drive started at 8 a.m. and went until 4 p.m.
TTMA vice-president Dale Parson said the final count of vaccines administered was 2,697, exceeding the 2,500 number originally projected.
Speaking to reporters at the Nagar site, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon noted that non-essential manufacturers have been closed due to public health measures and the plan was to get the export business and the economy back up and running.
“This is an important drive so that essential and non-essential manufacturers can export without any further interruptions which have been caused by the pandemic. We are encouraging all members of the manufacturing sector to get vaccinated. We know there may be a bit of hesitancy by some, but it’s important for everyone to look after their families and co-workers in these times as the economy’s engines need to start moving,” Gopee-Scoon said.
President of the TTMA Tricia Coosal said the response from manufacturing companies to encourage their staff to get vaccinated been good so far.
“We are honoured to be the first private entity to be allowed to set up and partner with the Government in the execution of a vaccination site. After actively lobbying for vaccines, we are heartened that this initiative will positively affect lives and livelihoods,” she said.
Asked about possible vaccine hesitancy by members, Coosal said the association was working on a project to get the correct information and educate people about vaccinations against Covid-19.
“There is a lot of misinformation being circulated on social media in particular, so we are working feverishly on getting the proper information to the manufacturing sector and public, so they can make an educated decision,” she said.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh told reporters that the template given to the TTMA on how to set up for the mass vaccination drive was impressively done and stuck to proper physical distancing.
“This is a good public and private sector initiative and TTMA must be commended for this move. T&T is continuing to get shipments of vaccines, which means we will no longer have gaps in the vaccination programme,” he said.
Deyalsingh also urged overweight people to get vaccinated as it has been observed in the hospital system that people with weight issues are being adversely affected by Covid-19.
“Once we start getting a huge quantity of vaccines very soon, then we would start to vaccinate in age groups coming down the line. So we will be doing 40-60 then the 20-40 age group and the health sector can accomplish that by October this year,” he said.
Deyalsingh emphasised that a first come-first-served basis for vaccines will start on Wednesday as elderly people have been complaining that they did not know how to make appointments using WhatsApp or did not have Internet access to register.
The minister said control management would be in place at regional health authorities (RHAs) during this vaccination process.
A move in the right direction
The Express observed a steady flow of workers and employers from the manufacturing sector going for vaccines during the drive yesterday.
Several workers from the West Indian Tobacco Company (Witco) were lining up to take the vaccine.
Witco’s external affairs manager Gervon Abraham, who also took the vaccine, told the Express that 32 workers were scheduled to be vaccinated and he was hopeful all turned up during the course of yesterday.
“We applaud the Government on shifting the paradigm to ‘Vaccinate And Operate’ which is a move in the right direction for beating the pandemic and facilitating economic sustainability,” Abraham said.
The cigarette producer’s doors are currently closed because of the public health regulations which define it as a non-essential manufacturer.
Ramps Logistics vice president of regional initiatives and TTMA board member Rudy Rampersad said 30 of the company’s frontline workers were listed to take the vaccine.
“This was an excellent move, everything went smoothly and this vaccination drive helps alleviate the burden on the public health system. This will also make workers feel more secure when carrying out their duties and encourage co-workers to get vaccinated and operate,” Rampersad told the Express in response to questions about the vaccination initiative.
SATT and pharmacies
to get jabs
Supermarket and pharmacy workers will be vaccinated at Centre Pointe Mall in Chaguanas from tomorrow.
This is also a private/public sector partnership between the Supermarket Association and the Ministry of Health to vaccinate workers in supermarket operations and pharmacists in the private sector.
SATT said the Ministry has made thousands of Sinopharm vaccines available to the sector as supermarket employees are at direct risk for transmission of the virus and deserve priority at this time.
SATT said in a statement that a digital registration platform has been established which has been shared to its membership and received overwhelming subscription feedback.