AS the debate on Covid-19 vaccines rages across the world (for the population as to how effective it is and what side effects are possible) and here in Trinidad and Tobago, we are in my view wasting energy on both sides in trying to score points on the sourcing and administering of the vaccine.
Thankfully the citizenry is exercising wisdom and going for the vaccine and as well ignoring the political dissidents and confusionists.
The reality, though, is that we are not going to come out of this pandemic unless there is mass vaccination of the population, which means at least 70 per cent. We need at least two million vaccines assuming a two-dose strategy. Our attention should be how to get this number in the shortest possible time. We are up against two factors.
Firstly, that developed countries are hoarding the vaccines for their own people and, secondly, there is a shortage worldwide.
I refuse to be amused by the ridiculous comment that Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar was responsible for the vaccines from India. I accept that the People’s National Movement was slow in taking advantage of India’s generosity and mishandled, to the point of insult, the relationship with India on this matter.
The Indian High Commissioner was well within his diplomatic right to defend his country in face of the personal attacks levelled against him. That the government of India rose above this and is sending vaccines is a credit to their integrity and their ability to rise in the cause of humanity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to whom this situation would have been brought, has exemplified statesmanship.
The streets are filled with nasty comments about the Indian vaccines with radio talk show hosts allowing comments that India produces fake drugs thus perpetuating doubts about the very vaccine that has been shipped to so many countries and is World Health Organisation-approved.
What we as a country should be doing is to enter into further negotiations to buy vaccines out of India even in small quantities.
The discussion on vaccines has also raised the issue of our ability to pay for them. Take the money out of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF). Saving your people is saving the future. This debate about financing should never have occurred.
We in this country live a bacchanal lifestyle. It is a style that prevents quick decision-making, promotes senseless debates, takes away from our productivity and threatens our stability.
Whether we know it or not, we are a mentally tired nation due to bacchanalism as a cultural trait.
Having said all of that, my recommendation is that you take the vaccine. I did last Friday. My wife and I called the Chaguanas number on Tuesday and gave our names, etc. I was surprised that we were called the next day and given an appointment for 1 p.m. on Friday last. I waited in line like everyone else and for those who may say that I was favoured I want to disabuse your minds. I went through the process.
The entire process, including the administering of the shot and the compulsory wait of 30 minutes after the shot, was smooth and lasted in total one and a quarter hours.
The staff were professional, very courteous and compassionate given the number of elderly persons waiting to be vaccinated.
Dr Joella Singh, who appeared to be the leader and co-ordinator of the team, was outstanding and excellent. Her communication with patients at several points, her personal attention to their pre-registration and the making available of vaccination cards showed that we have the potential to rise to very high levels of managerial excellence and professionalism in customer care.
The entire team at the Chaguanas health facility must be commended.
Incidentally, after nearly 48 hours thus far, we have not had any side effects.
Take the vaccine and stop the toilet paper discussions.
Former Member of Parliament