The T&T Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) says one of the reasons a high percentage of the nursing personnel in T&T remains unvaccinated is migration.
This is according to TTRNA President Idi Stuart in an interview with Guardian Media yesterday.
“From our standpoint, the main feedback is that nursing personnel like to travel and they are looking to see which vaccines are accepted internationally, despite the assurance from the WHO that all vaccines are safe and effective.”
Stuart said the quarantine conditions being imposed by countries vary according to which vaccines have been administered and was now influencing the behaviour of many of these nurses as some of them are in the process of migrating to the US and the UK in search of improved employment opportunities.
He said some of the recruitment agencies were now telling these nurses that they can become vaccinated when they arrive in the respective country.
“They would have a greater choice in terms of the type of vaccine they want to receive and so, some of them have chosen to wait,” Stuart said.
He stressed it was not a simple matter of vaccine hesitancy on their part, but because of professional betterment.
However, Stuart admitted that there were other nurses who “simply do not care anymore because they want the Government to focus on some of the long-standing issues plaguing the health system.”
This he said that included policy legislation and as a result, “They feel vaccination is low down on the scale.”
Meanwhile, he said there were some who were hesitant to become vaccinated because of the unknowns associated with it.
“The majority of them are telling us they have reviewed the literature and they are looking for a particular vaccine and if this means going abroad to get the vaccines of their choice, they have no problem in doing that,” he stated.
Asked if pressure is brought to bear on nursing personnel to become vaccinated as part of the nationwide effort to get more of the public to take the vaccine, Stuart said, “It would be foolhardy for the Government to try and pressure workers.”
“Influencing and encouraging them is one thing and we have been working as an Association to get our members to take the vaccine, but if it comes to making it mandatory, we will have a difficulty with that…not only health sector workers, but all unions will have a problem with that.”
The TTRNA head said health sector workers are more vaccinated than most members of the population due to the job they perform - and while the daily numbers of these professionals accessing the vaccine may be lower than officials would like.
“The majority of nursing personnel would become vaccinated eventually but trying to mandate it above and beyond any other sector…we would have a lot of difficulty with that.”
Stuart said the major game-changer would be if it became mandatory for the entire country to become vaccinated.
Health officials last week expressed concern that that many healthcare workers remained unvaccinated at this time.
Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said a mass vaccination drive is being planned for healthcare workers and should be rolled out by the end of this week across all five regional health authorities.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of doctors and physicians are vaccinated but for nurses, it is between 40 to 50 per cent.
Deyalsingh has spoken with Communication Minister Symon de Nobriga to discuss an educational campaign for the hesitant and uninformed, particularly those in rural communities.