terrence deyalsingh

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Fully vaccinated against Covid-19, then prepare for a booster shot.

That was the announcement made by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh during Monday’s virtual Covid-19 press conference.

He said despite the new Omicron variant, it is not a time for panic but vigilance, as Trinidad and Tobago is in a very fortunate position now in having a stock of over 690,625 vaccines.

He said the country received a shipment of 84,000 doses of Sinopharm on Saturday via the Covax Facility, while two weeks’ prior, 150,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were sourced from the African Medicine Supply Platform.

“If Trinidad and Tobago, like other countries, didn’t learn from the experiences, and our current experience with Delta. If we didn’t learn and engage in scenario planning for the future, that would have been not been a very good place to be.

“We engaged in some scenario planning, and part of that scenario planning was building up a strategic stock of vaccines, which is in excess of what we normally would use.”

He said with the acquisition of the 234,000 doses and with the country’s vaccine stock at 690,625 doses, it is time to revisit the national vaccination programme since what’s in stock is far in excess of the current needs based on current usage. But, that was not the only driving factor.

“The other driving factor was that we knew at some point in time that if we didn’t proactively do this, and we want to keep on protecting our vaccinated population, outside of the current programme, we were going to have to launch a booster programme."

He said that discussion has been happening at the Ministry of Health for the past two to three weeks.

“And now that vaccine inequity is no longer an issue. Now that we have this strategic stock of vaccines. Now with the Omicron variant, we will be coming to the public very soon for the booster programme for the 642,105 persons...already vaccinated.”

Deyalsingh said they will be making further announcements in the coming days as to where they’re at with the booster programme but he’s alerting the country now to allay the fears of all those persons who are desirous regardless of their disease state or age, that in fact a booster programme is coming.

“In the interim, I’ve instructed the RHAs (Regional Health Authorities) to get more aggressive with the current additional dose programme, especially for those over 60 with Sinopharm.”

He noted that international developments with the Omicron variant have demonstrated to them that they were on the right path in thinking about this, because this strategic stock buildup, the negotiations would have started a couple months ago.

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