This first allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Trinidad and Tobago by March 2021.
This announcement was made today by Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, during the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association (TTMA) Virtual Presidential Inauguration and Conferring of Honours Ceremony 2021.
This initial allocation will provide vaccines for at least 50,000 persons as 50 per cent of the vaccines will be reserved to ensure that each recipient receives the required two doses of the vaccine.
The distribution process for this vaccine would therefore align closely to existing vaccine protocols.
While it is noted that the vaccine will be distributed after it receives final World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Use Authorisation, this announcement is a major step in securing doses of the vaccine for the Trinidad and Tobago population, especially in the face of international COVID-19 vaccine supply challenges.
The Ministry of Health has taken a three-pronged approach to securing COVID-19 vaccines:
1. The COVAX Facility (co-led by WHO, Gavi and CEPI)
2. Bilateral discussions with vaccine suppliers
The Ministry of Health says they are far advanced in their preparation to receive and distribute the vaccine locally. Necessary consumables for vaccination have already been stockpiled in significant quantities including one million alcohol swabs and 1.5 million syringes.
At this time, the Ministry of Health has in-country capacity to store substantial quantities of doses of COVID-19 vaccines: over 300, 000 at 2 to 8 degrees, 200,000 at -20 degrees and 200,000 at -70 degrees Celsius.
While the Ministry believes they’ve already made significant steps in preparation for the national vaccine roll-out, it recognises that a public/private sector partnership is required to administer vaccines to the national population in the shortest time.
This will give Trinidad and Tobago the best chance of mass protection from the evolving COVID-19 variants.
National COVID-19 vaccine deployment will be implemented using two parallel pathways – the first managed directly by the Public Health Sector and the second managed by the Private Sector with oversight by the Ministry of Health. Additionally, while 23 public health facilities have been identified as future vaccination sites, plans are in place for the creation of 4 mass vaccination sites. The Minister of Health called upon the TTMA to provide its usual support for this very important national vaccination drive.
On Sunday, February 7, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies will host a Symposium on COVID-19 vaccines, which will address vaccine hesitancy and plans for the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine in Trinidad and Tobago.
Invitees will include the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association, The Pharmaceutical Society of Trinidad and Tobago, The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association and the Inter-Religious Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago.