Meanwhile, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is assuring the population that there are enough vaccines available to those who are willing to take the jab
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has repeated that the government is not considering enforcing a mandatory vaccination programme at this time.
At yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference, he said vaccinations remain voluntary but he expects citizens will do the right and responsible thing by making use of the vaccines available to them.
He said he was grateful that the conversation about mandatory vaccines is taking place because it is an educating conversation.
“Even though, today, we are not having in front of us mandatory vaccinations as a discussion or policy at the level of the Cabinet, outside the Cabinet door is a future. There are viruses and if the condition arises, God forbid, that a government, including our government, has to intervene to protect the lives of its citizens, I simply say, it will be the responsibility of the government to say if and how it happens – whether it’s three-fifths in the Parliament or the whole Parliament,” Dr Rowley said.
The Prime Minister said the government trusts the population with its decision making. He said if the population wants to see a return to normalcy and wants to stop the illness and death caused by the virus, then vaccination is essential.
“I would expect that the reasonable response of the people of Trinidad and Tobago is to find ourselves in the population of vaccinated people for whom the ravages of the virus would be considerably reduced and work towards some sort of elimination,” he said.
He called on people to rely on verified information from medical professionals to make their decision whether to get vaccinated or not.
While acknowledging that some people cannot get vaccinated, at this time, for legitimate reasons, he urged people refusing to get vaccinated because of misinformation to come to their senses for their sake, their loved ones’ sake and for the country at large.
“Today, we mourn the loss of approximately 1,000 people. 1,000 people lost in a population of 1.4 million … 1,000 families and more, many more families felt the pain of that loss and what we can comfort ourselves in is that it could easily be a whole lot worse,” he said.
To avoid a worse outcome, people must make the right decision to vaccinate.
Asked at the press conference whether all Cabinet members have been vaccinated, Dr Rowley said he wasn’t sure, but he hoped so.
“I don’t know. I do not monitor members of the cabinet but I hope given what we’ve been asking the population to do, that there would not be any member of Cabinet asking to do otherwise. I have not polled members of the Cabinet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is assuring the population that there are enough vaccines available to those who are willing to take the jab.
At present, there are 157,053 fully-vaccinated people in the country but, according to Minister Deyalsingh, that figure will likely increase significantly in the coming weeks, as the government continues with its ramped-up vaccination drive.
According to Deyalsingh, from Monday, two more mass vaccination sites, in partnership with the private sector, will be operationalized at the Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber of Commerce Building and the Penal Powergen Station.
He added that a third, at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, in Port-of-Spain, will likely come on stream this week as well.
More than 100 community doctors, as well as several private hospitals, have also been given a supply of vaccines to administer free of charge.
“Between the six Regional Health Authority mass vaccination sites, the 109 health centres under the Ministry of Health, the six mass vaccination sites being run by the private sector, the private hospitals, anybody interested in being vaccinated should have reasonable access to the vaccine,” he said.
“There’s no more restriction, as long as you’re 18-year-old and not pregnant, or if your doctor advises you against the vaccine.”
While a registration system, and not a walk-in system, remains in place, Minister Deyalsingh said the 109 regional health authorities have begun contacting people in their communities, encouraging them to register for their shots.
He said during the coming week, the ministry will be launching new communication, and reach and accountability initiatives to vaccinate as many people as possible.
At a previous press conference, on June 3, the Health Minister revealed that 8,861 healthcare workers out of a total of 16,600 workers were vaccinated.
Asked if the figure had increased, the minister said more healthcare workers were going for their vaccines, but he didn’t have an updated figure available.
“Since then, I’ve been working closely with the president of the TTRNA (T&T Registered Nurses Association) Idi Stuart, he and I have been working very closely to bring out more and more nurses, not only nurses. We have expanded it to families, spouses and they have been coming out more and more,” he said.
“The nursing compliment – we really want to get that up.”