Deyalsingh dismisses fears over 5-11 covid vaxx – DOCS HAVE IT WRONG

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

AWARDED: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh presents a plaque to Radiology Co-ordinator Shantee Mongroo during the recommissioning ceremony for the Arima Hospital on Sunday. At left is NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has rejected the views of a group of nine doctors who among other things, recently published a joint letter, questioning the need for covid19 vaccines for children aged 5-11 and the actual efficacy of these jabs for juveniles.

The doctors also alleged a lack of consultation prior to the rollout in what they see as a Government move to mandate such vaccines for this age group.

The letter, which was published in this newspaper on Wednesday June 1, was signed by medical doctors Feroze Omardeen, David Strisiver, David Bratt, Nilash Ramnarine, Rajiv Seeraram, Keith Koo Min Chee, Gautam Tewarie, Sharon Lackan and Johnny Siu Chong.

Expressing their deep concern over giving covid vaccines to low-risk children, the doctors said such a practise was not supported by satisfactory evidence of an acceptable risk-benefit ratio; ignored the tenets of medical ethics, “first do no harm” and ignored the principle of informed consent.

“We are concerned by the lack of dialogue and interest in this matter within the medical profession, which is expected and trusted by the public, to safeguard their interest,” the doctors said in their letter.

They claimed that any mandating of vaccines would worsen the unjustifiable atmosphere of fear pervading the lives of some children, parents and teachers in a current time of low-risk.

“We call for urgent, respectful, highly public, and most importantly, data-based debate among the medical profession regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination of low-risk children.”

Speaking on Sunday at the recommissioning ceremony for the Arima Hospital, to become a hybrid facility offering both traditional and covid19 healthcare, Deyalsingh denied the paediatric covid19 vaccine was mandatory.

“The vaccination programme is voluntary, so that is a totally misguided statement. There’s no mandatory vaccine programme,” the minister said.

Deyalsingh said informed consent has to be provided by an individual parent by way of a signed consent form. He said this claim by the nine-member group of doctors was “a total red herring.”

He said it is up to parents to decide if to vaccinate their children. Saying only 1,000 children had been vaccinated, in a week and a half, he saw this as proof that parents are making their choices.

Asked if he would engage with the medical profession, given the doctors’ letter calling for discussions, Deyalsingh replied, “We have already engaged the TT Medical Association and the Paediatrics Society who have endorsed the vaccine. So I don’t know what other engagement we need to have.”

Asked if young children need such vaccines, given that they likely have naturally strong immune systems, Deyalsingh said, “We conferred with the Paediatric Society’s Dr Viren Singh who has totally endorsed the vaccine. So, I don’t know where else we need to go with that.”

Asked if he saw any dangers in the paediatric vaccine, Deyalsingh said that in the US, ten million children have been vaccinated, with no adverse events. “PAHO signed off, WHO signed off. So again, red herrings all around.”

In his address during the commissioning ceremony, Deyalsingh said he was happy to see families once again having picnics in the Queen’s Park Savannah, and groups of youngsters playing games.

Recalling that a representative of each of the 31 departments/units at the Arima Hospital had each just been awarded a plaque in thanks for their role in the pandemic, Deyalsingh said it had been a team effort. “You heard the round of applause “security” got? Without a team, you could not mount this response.”

He boasted of the hospital’s work such as 1,839 adult admissions and 107 paediatric admissions; 4,479 dialysis sessions; plus the Radiology Unit doing 2,977 CT scans, 925 ultrasounds, 370 MRIs and 4,956 X-rays. He said similar works were done at the Point Fortin, Augustus Long (Pointe-a-Pierre), Couva and Caura Hospitals. Deyalsingh called for applause for staff providing these services. Otherwise Deyalsingh said the pandemic had revealed comorbities in the population such as hypertension and diabetes, as he urged people to join his ministry’s “TT Moves” campaign.

Also addressing the event was Planning Minister Pennelope Beckles who praised the service provided by hospital staff. North Central Regional Health Authority CEO Davlin Thomas praised Arima Hospital staff for fighting covid19 with the “determination and doggedness” similar to that shown by historical Amerindian chief Hyarima against foreign invasion. He said, “You are all heroes.”