HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Opposition Senator Wade Mark quarrelled in the Senate on Tuesday about how Government and the Opposition could collaborate to encourage more people to get vaccinated against covid19.
Deyalsingh asked Mark if he would agree to government and opposition senators appearing in a collective photograph with their vaccination cards displayed.
Mark avoided answering the question and instead asked whether Government would hold itself liable for any public-sector worker who suffers any adverse effects from taking a covid19 vaccine. The Government has given public-sector workers a deadline of January 15 to begin the process or be furloughed.
In making his request to Mark, Deyalsingh said, “I think what the country needs now is some solidarity, and if we need to increase our rates, the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words.”
He said a collective picture of government and opposition senators showing proof of being vaccinated against covid19 would encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“Collective leadership calls for us to put aside our swords and words and share solidarity.”
Government senators thumped their desks as Deyalsingh spoke.
In response, Mark recalled Deyalsingh saying covid19 vaccines are safe and effective. He asked, “Is the minister prepared, and his government, to indemnify individuals who take the vaccine and they have an adverse reaction to it?”
Opposition senators thumped their desks as Mark challenged Deyalsingh “to put on the record whether the government is prepared to indemnify and stand liability” for any such workers.
Deyalsingh countered, “I have noticed that the honourable senator has studiously steered clear of my call for a collective picture, asking that the UNC’s six senators join with PNM’s (16) senators to send a signal to this country as leaders.”
Deyalsingh sat down as Senate President Christine Kangaloo cautioned Mark and Opposition Senator Damian Lyder about inaudible comments they made while Deyalsingh was speaking
She advised Mark that he “should not be engaging and saying what people can and cannot do in the (Parliament) chamber.”
Deyalsingh said he could not say how many public-sector workers have been vaccinated to date. But he said there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people getting vaccinated in recent times.
Responding to a question from Independent Senator Anthony Vieira, Deyalsingh said the Health Ministry traces, monitors and reports any adverse effects of the vaccines reported in TT to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the administration of over 1.3 million doses of covid19 vaccines since last year, Deyalsingh said, fewer than five-ten known adverse events had been reported and not one had resulted in death.