Deyalsingh: No ID card needed to get covid19 vaccines

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Terrence Deyalsingh.

PEOPLE who do not have national identification cards will not be prevented from getting vaccinated against covid19.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh gave this assurance while responding to questions from reporters during the virtual health news conference on Wednesday.

“We are vaccinating persons without IDs because we recognise there will be people without IDs (who come to get vaccinated) and it is more important to vaccinate them than to stand on ceremony and be overly bureaucratic.”

But Deyalsingh said the numbers of people coming to get vaccinated, without identification cards are small.

Approximately 667,025 people have received either two doses of a covid19 vaccine regime (AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Pfizer) or a single-dose regime (Johnson & Johnson) to date.

Deyalsingh was pleased that the number of people coming for covid19 booster shots continues to increase. That number is estimated to be 94,254.

He reiterated that being vaccinated, including receiving booster shots, was especially important given the growing threat posed by the omicron covid19 variant.

While last week there were between 1,500-1,700 people coming to be vaccinated daily, Deyalsingh said that number dipped on Tuesday to 1,302.

“Let hope this is not part of a pattern. Let’s hope this is a blip on the screen and we can get back up to 1,500, 1,600, 1,700.”

In respect of public-sector workers, Deyalsingh said a total of 1,596 of them have used the facilities offered to them at Government Campus Plaza in Port of Spain and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts in San Fernando.

He reiterated that the system used by TT to report any adverse events with respect to vaccinations (which now includes covid19 vaccinations) is part of a robust global network. Individual countries, Deyalsingh continued, do not abandon that system in favour of local versions, because this could contaminate the accuracy of the data being collected.

Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said the ongoing need for people to be vaccinated against covid19 continues to be underscored by challenges being faced in the parallel health system set up to deal with covid19.

Within the system, there are 480 patients in hospitals and 133 in step-down facilities.

Abdool-Richards said, “This gives us an occupancy level of 69 per cent.”

Trends relating to covid19 cases have been consistent over the last 85 days. She said those trends include many severely and critically ill patients in hospital, and the intensive care units (ICU) are almost full.

“This morning, across TT, the ICU occupancy is 83 per cent.”

In Trinidad. 63 of the 71 ICU beds in the parallel health care system are occupied. Tobago is in a similar position, with three out of nine ICU beds occupied.

Recalling there were 20,538 covid19 cases reported last December, epidemologist Dr Avery Hinds said, “To date, with just a week and a half or so gone in January 2022, we have accumulated nearly 6,000 cases.”

On a claim that a private lab mixed up a person’s covid19 test results, Deyalsingh said he had no information about that and the ministry will look into it.

On calls by Tobago reef tour operators about returning to work, Deyalsingh said Government continues to look at the issue of opening up different spaces during the pandemic. He reminded the public that beaches have been reopened across TT from 5 am-noon daily. While PCR remains the global gold standard for covid19 tests, Deyalsingh noted, “The process for registering rapid antigen tests is a simple process. It is done in a couple of days.”

He said the ministry’s food and chemistry division recently gave approval in this regard.