Classroom

Teachers are listed among the essential workers to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine when the first tranche of the vaccine arrives in Trinidad and Tobago by March, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday.

Members of the protective services and sanitation workers are also listed as essential workers.

The first tranche of between 100,000 and 120,000 vaccines is expected to arrive here by the end of February or beginning of March.

About 50,000 people would be vaccinated as each person will need two doses of the vaccine—the primer dose and, a few weeks later, a booster dose.

Healthcare workers will be first in line to receive the vaccine, Deyalsingh reiterated.

“We estimate in the system, which is a pretty good estimate, that we have about 17,000 healthcare workers throughout the five RHAs (regional health authorities)—four in Trinidad and one in Tobago,” Deyalsingh said at yesterday’s Ministry of Health news conference.

He said priority will be given to the most exposed healthcare workers.

“So we are not focusing, in the first instance, on those who work in offices, in HR (human resour­ces), accounting and so on. We will be focusing first on our healthcare workers who are the most exposed in the front line...so those healthcare workers who work in Accident and Emergency, on the wards, in the clinics,” he said.

“We have almost one hundred and something healthcare centres in Trinidad and Tobago, so they will get the first bite of that cherry,” Deyalsingh added.

Next in line for the vaccine will be patients of non-commu­nicable disease (NCD) cli­nics and the elderly at long-­stay homes, Deyal­singh noted.

He said the ministry is currently collating the data for NCD clinics.

“And when they come to the clinics, those persons will be offered the vaccine absolutely free of charge,” he said.

He said essential workers will follow, then mass vaccinations.

At Monday’s Ministry of Health news conference, Deyalsingh said depending on the number of vaccines remaining from the first tranche, or if T&T gets another vaccine shipment, the mass vaccination programme will begin.

Giving an update on T&T’s epidemiological position, epidemio­logist Dr Avery Hinds reported a decline in Covid-19 cases.

He noted between January 1 and January 15, there was a slight increase in cases, which may have been linked to Christmas into New Year’s Day festivities.

“And we have noted that the numbers began to come down again as you move from mid into end of January, so the rolling average has actually fallen to somewhere between 12 and 13 at this point, on a daily basis,” Hinds said.

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