With over 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, the Ministry of Health has only ten reports of adverse reactions. These include blood clots and myocarditis.
At the ministry’s COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh compared this figure to the 1800-plus deaths among unvaccinated people.
Deyalsingh said the eligible population for COVID-19 vaccines was approximately 1 million adults and an estimated 100,000 children between the ages of 12-18. Up until Wednesday, the number of people with a complete vaccine regime (one and two-dose vaccines) was 630,781, representing 45.1 per cent of the population.
In terms of partial vaccinations, there were 634,603, representing 45.3 per cent. So far, 6639 people have received their additional primary dose. With less than 50 per cent complete vaccination, Deyalsingh said this was not good enough.
He said society now has a role to play in how T&T navigates the pandemic moving forward.
While some people believe their immune system can fight COVID-19, Dr Chad Bisambar says the risk of severe illness and death is higher in diabetic patients.
Bisambar is an endocrinologist, diabetologist and COVID-19 consultant at the North Central Regional Health Authority.
He said approximately 13 per cent of the population is diabetic.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and as the country observed World Diabetes Day last week Sunday, he said people needed to manage their conditions.
Bisambar refers patients to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the High Dependency Unit (HDU) of the Couva Hospital and Mutiltraining Facility daily. Many of them have uncontrolled diabetes and require intravenous insulin for control.
However, he said that if a person manages their diabetes well, there is a lesser likelihood of their COVID-19 infection becoming severe.
“We do know that COVID-19 can cause insulin resistance, and it is now reported to affect the pancreas itself that produces insulin. Certain medication that we use for COVID-19 infection includes steroids. That can also cause high blood glucose levels,” Bisambar said.
Medical teams are now screening patients with high blood glucose levels for diabetes on admittance because many are asymptomatic and do not know they have diabetes.
Bisambar said all approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for people with diabetes as it builds antibodies and teaches their immune system how to fight the coronavirus.
Among the side effects of the vaccine is high blood sugar levels.
He is advising diabetic people to monitor their sugar levels up to 48 hours after receiving their shots.
Apart from ensuring they follow all public health guidelines, he advises them to take all their medication recommended by their doctor.
He also said people with diabetes should have a supply of medication to last for a month. It would be helpful in case they have to quarantine. —KEVON FELMINE