CMO: Government determines covid19 policies

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Roshan Parasram –

GOVERNMENT has the final word on policies relating to covid19 vaccination, opening of any public places currently closed owing to public health regulations and the staging of any public events during the covid19 pandemic. Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram made this point at the virtual health news conference on Monday.

On December 7, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) made it clear that countries should implement mandatory covid19 vaccinations, once all other options to vaccinate their populations have failed.

Asked whether Trinidad and Tobago has reached this point, Parasram said it was up to the Government to determine whether it needed to implement any policy to increase covid19 vaccination.

“In terms of our population, we (Health Ministry) continue to try in terms of avenues to get people vaccinated as best as we can.”

He said people can be vaccinated at public health centres and mass vaccination sites throughout TT. “We are working with the University of the West Indies as well by way of (the) social sciences (faculty), to try and get some additional vaccination, by way of changing the messaging.”

Parasram also believed there needed to be a lot of one-on-one level counselling between doctors, nurses and patients about the importance of being vaccinated against covid19. Similarly, Government will decide upon the opening of public spaces closed during the pandemic, expansion of spaces already opened and staging of public events during the pandemic.

On December 18, 2021, the Prime Minister said public sector workers who chose not to be vaccinated against covid19 (for non-medical reasons) by mid-January would be furloughed. Different religious groups have asked for rivers to be reopened for certain religious ceremonies. There has also been no decision regarding the staging of any form of Carnival this year.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said most of the covid19 vaccines approved by the WHO involve a two-dose regime.

“If you have just one dose, then the immune response wanes a lot more quickly.The reason why most of the vaccines have a two dose schedule is to maintain the strength and the duration of that immune response for a longer period of time.”

Parasram also said with new covid variants emerging, vaccine manufacturers are tweaking their products to deal with these variants. The Pharmacist vaccine is currently in phase two clinical trials. In terms of vaccine acquisition, Parasram said the ministry continues to liaise with vaccine manufacturers.

Should any of these enhanced vaccines become available, he continued, efforts could be made either bilaterally or through Caricature to procure them as soon as possible. Parasram also said covid19 testing continues to be widely available in the public and private sectors in TT.

While he was aware of comments allegedly made by the woman who was the first omicron case to a media house recently, Parasram declined to comment on them as the matter is being investigated by the police.