Members of the public yesterday raised concern about whether Tobago had a different policy for its national vaccination rollout, after word got out that Tobago House of Assemblymen had been vaccinated since the plan was launched on Tuesday.
In announcing the national vaccine rollout plan, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh had clearly indicated that in the first phase, health workers and elderly person 60 and above were being targeted.
However, persons took to social media yesterday after it was learned Assembly Secretaries, THA staff and even media personnel were being vaccinated.
The issue heightened after THA Assemblyman Kelvon Morris stated on social media that he was being vaccinated. Although the post was subsequently removed, several persons were outraged, stating that Morris should not be vaccinated ahead of a frontline worker or an elderly person.
Guardian Media contacted Morris, who, despite being asked several times if he had been vaccinated as he announced, said he was “neither here nor there on whether he was vaccinated.” He went on to say that the vaccination policy allows for any Tobagonian over 18 to get vaccinated.
“I do not understand why me being vaccinated is a problem because Tobago has a policy where anyone young or old can be vaccinated after registering on the TRHA app,” Morris told Guardian Media.
Told about the Government’s statement that the 3,000 vaccines allocated to Tobago were meant to cover the two required doses for 1,500 frontline workers and elderly persons as part of the priority process, Morris said the government’s vaccination policy was clear.
“The policy was that the first batch was designated for medical staff only, that is why no Minister, the Prime Minister took it, even against the call of the public who were saying they should have gone first in setting the example, it was for frontline and critical care.”
Morris, who said the 3,000 vaccines which were allocated to Tobago were “insufficient,” said the vaccine the policy was that any resident can simply sign up online and get an appointment for one of the closest three assigned vaccination centres because the policy allows any Tobagonian to register and be vaccinated.
Guardian Media also repeatedly asked Morris if he got an appointment through the Tobago Regional Health Authority’s online registration system. His response was, “Anyone can register.”
On Tuesday, Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine was vaccinated at the Scarborough Health Centre, filling in for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who could not take the jab after he tested positive to COVID. Several other persons, including Secretary in the Division of Infrastructure Quarries and the Environment Kwesi DesVignes, members of the media and THA staff members were also offered jabs and those who accepted were subsequently asked to complete a registration form before being administered the vaccine.
Nursing staff on hand were asked under what condition these other persons, who were not previously registered for vaccinations, were being given the vaccine. One of the nurses explained that “a new vial was opened and it needed to be used out.”
Contacted yesterday, General Manager of Primary Care at the Tobago Regional Health Authority Dr Roxanne Mitchell, who is spearheading the rollout of the vaccine in Tobago, said 152 persons received vaccines on Tuesday. However, she did not say how the figures were disaggregated.
Mitchell also declined comment on the vaccine being administered to persons outside of the first phase priority groups. Calls to Davidson-Celestine went unanswered up to press time.