It took less than 24 hours after Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh announced the public-private partnership for vaccinations, for us to get a first view of how it would work.
The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), one of five associations given a share of the Sinopharm vaccines under the ‘Vaccinate to Operate’ plan, started the initiative at the Divali Nagar site early yesterday morning.
They did not disappoint.
The registration process began as early as 6.30 am and by the time the vaccines arrived a couple of hours later, the TTMA already had its team of dozens of doctors, nurses, ushers, registrars, supervisors and security ready for an immediate roll-out.
The choice of the Divali Nagar site was wise, with ample space that allowed for safe registering, waiting, screening, vaccinating and the final monitoring, without congestions.
If anything, it was a wonderful display of what happens when the professionalism nurtured in the business sector is fused with the professionalism of the medical society – two sectors in which errors are so costly that no procedures are overlooked.
We commend the TTMA for running a good vaccination programme yesterday and also the government for accepting to go this route.
Among the things that make sector distribution important, is that they already have databases of their workers that allow for ease of communication and planning.
While the State continues to vaccinate people based on their ages and health on a large basis, these private sector bodies can now coordinate to ensure that the right people in their businesses are vaccinated with the goal of getting things back up and running.
The TTMA executive, for example, will have clear lines of communication with business managers within their association, who would then present the lists of people they believe are key to the restart of their own operations.
Those managers would also know those who have already been vaccinated within their individual businesses and therefore be able to collate their lists accordingly.
Provisions like these also reduce the number of people required to gather at health facilities when the first-come-first-serve system begins on Wednesday for those over 60 or under-60 with comorbidities.
Health officials dealing with tens of thousands of requests for appointments will also begin to see their lists lessening, opening up spaces for more people who do not currently fall within the sector vaccination programme.
All in all, it is an excellent strategy, lobbied for by the business community, that can only see a larger number of people vaccinated in the quickest possible time, once vaccines are available. We all benefit.
At 300 people per hour, the TTMA was expecting to vaccinate 2,500 people by 4.30 pm yesterday, half of the 5,000 it was given.
The Supermarkets Association will start their vaccinations on Tuesday at the Centre Point Mall and the Pharmacy Association, Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association and Construction Sector are also expected to roll out their programmes later this week.
By the time they’re done, a further 15,000 people would be out of the regular system for vaccinations, 15,000 more people would be better prepared to reopen the economy and most importantly, 15,000 people would have begun to lessen their chances of contracting COVID-19.
TTMA president Tricia Coosal said it best in a statement issued by the association yesterday afternoon:
“This unprecedented partnership between public and private sector in our fight against the COVID-19 virus is the personification of the adage – we are all in this together.”
We couldn’t agree more.