Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday praised two women who survived bouts of COVID-19 for giving their stories to Guardian Media and the media house for reporting responsibly on the issue.
Holding up a copy of the T&T Guardian’s Friday front page, which was headlined “Vaccines Saved Our Lives,” Deyalsingh said, “This was an absolutely brilliant headline. This tells you all you need to know. Vaccines save our lives. This is what vaccines do.
“When you read the body of the article…I want to congratulate Guardian Media on this. It was a responsible piece of journalism. Vaccination saved the lives of these two young ladies. This is all we need to encourage those on the fence to get vaccinated.”
He said the ministry has been trying to get former COVID patients to tell their stories but has not always been successful at this. As such, he thanked the women, Denielle Sookoo and Myra Jogie, who credited vaccines and caring doctors for helping them fight off their recent COVID infections, for giving their experiences.
Deyalsingh said as of Friday night, 46.3 per cent of the population, or 648,320 of the population, had gotten their first dose. He called 46.3 per cent “half way decent” but added the country can do much better if more people are vaccinated.
“I really want to thank who are taking advantage of the vaccination programme, you are really helping us and helping healthcare workers in this battle by doing the right thing. We are currently doing about 2,000 doses a day of additional primary doses. I want to put out the plea to the other couple hundred persons to please make a Christmas decision to get vaccinated so we can decrease the pressure on health workers. They are under pressure and they are our heroes.”
He also warned that the global pandemic is nowhere near over and other variants are on their way.
“In one year and one month, we moved from seven countries with one million cases to 40 countries and there are five more waiting in the wings to join that club of countries with over a million cases. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this global pandemic is not over. The virus is not finished with us.”
Deyalsingh also said they are doing their best to assist healthcare professionals get through these challenging times for example in the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) they have hired additional staff and they have social events and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) to provide ”therapy” but what these professionals need is for the public to be vaccinated and not to contract the virus.
When asked if there are plans to import more vaccines, Deyalsingh said they are always in talks with vaccine manufacturers and COVAX as to what vaccines are available and in what quantities.
He said T&T has 673,000 does of vaccines right now and “this is a good place to be.”
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram said the Omicron variant continues to be a major threat globally and T&T should be concerned about its rapid spread.
Noting that the bulk of cases had so far been detected in South Africa and neighbouring South African countries, Parasram said, “Preliminary data suggest an increased risk of reinfection. The global risk of spread is very high and it may lead to various surges across the world. Finally, current vaccines remain effective against hospitalisations, severe disease and death, and PCR tests can detect Omicron infections,” he said at the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference.
He said new data suggests the Omicron variant is causing severe illness in the under five age group and over 60. He said the rise of new variants shows the importance of getting vaccinated and getting the boosters which will be in T&T soon.(RJL)