Despite covid19 surge, no rush for vaccines

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The tent designated for people who require a third dose of a covid19 vaccine at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando on Thursday. – Angelo Marcelle

Even though health officials are currently seeing a surge in covid19 cases and deaths, there remains a lull in the number of people getting fully vaccinated.

From November 1-10, Trinidad and Tobago recorded 3,146 new covid19 cases, which accounted for a 5.3 per cent increase in total covid19 cases and 110 new deaths.

At the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference on Monday, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the country is currently seeing a steady surge of new covid19 cases and deaths which started in October.

In contrast to the ongoing surge, there was only a 3.2 per increase in the total number of fully vaccinated people when Newsday reviewed all of the ministry’s covid19 updates from November 1-10.

The data shows people who are not fully vaccinated accounted for 92.3 per cent (5,033 of the 5,453) of the patients entering the parallel healthcare system between July 22 and October 27.

The low demand for covid19 jabs was reflected when Newsday visited the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) mass vaccination site in San Fernando on Thursday.

Shortly after 11.30am, there were no more than ten people registering for their first jabs, with even fewer there for their second or third jabs.

Gulf View resident Lenny Bahadoor, who is in his late 60s, was one of the people waiting for their third shot, though he was doing so somewhat unwillingly. Bahadoor told Newsday that if his wife hadn’t insisted, and he didn’t feel he had no choice, he might not have taken the third jab.

He explained, “You see, next thing I take this (expletive) thing and end up on the ground. You don’t know what could happen…it’s a risk and we don’t know.

“But I’m still taking it.

“Third dose start from yesterday (Wednesday) I don’t think they’ve gotten much feedback, so I wanted to hold on for a while and see what happen to who take third dose, to know it working.”

When Newsday spoke to La Romaine resident Sookdeo Arjoonsingh, he was in a more upbeat mood e.

Arjoonsingh told Newsday, “At this point in time, I enjoy taking the third shot.

“I’m a family man who spend a lot of time with my family, so I am also doing it for them.

“I say thanks and praise to the Government for providing these vaccines.”

Arjoonsingh said he has also made it his duty to encourage his friends and family to get vaccinated.

When Newsday visited the Couva District Health Facility on Thursday, over two dozen people were waiting to get covid19 vaccines, with some inquiring about the process of getting their third jab.

An official at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) told Newsday the authority continues to do weekly “road trips” in an effort to vaccinate more people. On Thursday, it hosted its weekly road trip at the Debe Market.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health began giving a primary third dose of the Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines and second doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

People enquire about getting their third dose of the covid19 vaccine at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando on Thursday. – Angelo Marcelle

For people who received the Sinopharm vaccine, a third primary dose is recommended for those 60 and over.

Sinopharm recipients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised will also be targeted one-three months after their second dose.

Of patients who received the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson vaccine, only those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised will be targeted for an additional dose one-three months after their second dose.

With a continued shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the parallel healthcare system, health officials are continuing to plead with people to get fully vaccinated and reduce their chance of needing to be warded in the ICU if they get covid19.

During Wednesday’s virtual covid19 press briefing, Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said 52 of the country’s 60 covid19 ICU beds were occupied, and 46 of those patients were not fully vaccinated.