In Tobago, while front line workers are a priority, as well as persons 60 years and over, the vaccination process was opened to all persons over 18 years of age, who are interested in taking the vaccine.
When registration initially started, it was recognised that at the pace of registration there would have been a challenge to administer all the doses by the expiry date of the vaccines.
The Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development of the Tobago House of Assembly said a system was devised to ensure that none of the vaccines remain on hand post May month end. We must keep in mind that the vaccines expire at the end of May.
Tobago has opened up the vaccine to anyone at this stage for two reasons: the date of expiry of the vaccine and the eight week time frame to administer the second dose.
It is useful to note, that in order for a second dose to be administered within the required eight week period, the first dose must be administered as soon as possible.
There are 3,000 doses to be administered in this round and approximately 2,200 persons have since applied. Seniors and front line staff who wish to obtain vaccines will get vaccinated, once they are willing. This is a voluntary exercise and although there is a priority listing, not all who are considered priority will come forward because of fears and suspicion.
Vaccines are a scarce commodity and are difficult to get, therefore our system must take into consideration the prevailing circumstances and the realities. Wastage at this time is not encouraged. Our focus now is on ensuring that all dosages are administered by the end of May and that eventually at least over 60 percent of the population is vaccinated. In that regard, we are heartened that more vaccines will arrive into the country by next week so that the process can continue with some level of predictability.
There are still fears from the general public, but people are signing up on a steady basis to receive the vaccines. So far Tobago has managed to vaccinate over 150 persons per day at the three health centres in Roxborough, Scarborough and Canaan.
We continue to urge persons to put their fears aside. Assemblyman Tracy Davidson – Celestine, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development said that, she has taken the vaccine and “is still standing. I was able to resume normal activities after only a few hours. While signing up and taking the vaccine is voluntary, pretty soon it will become a global requirement especially for travel and who knows perhaps, to enter some business places as well. If we agree that we want to return to normal and reduce the social and economic pressures, it’s important that we subscribe.”
The primary care staff have been managing the process well, there has been no significant adverse reports.
The public must note, that once a vial is opened it must be used within a six hour period. Sometimes persons who are booked may not show up for appointments. In those circumstances walk- ins are welcomed.
According to Dr Roxanne Mitchell, Acting General Manager Primary Care Services, TRHA and coordinator for the Tobago vaccine roll-out: “Most are receiving the vaccine. Most Health Centres have been going beyond the normal time of closure.”