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Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

COVID-19 vaccines are being given to the public on a voluntary basis.

That’s always been and continues to be Government’s stated policy, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said in the Senate yesterday.

He said the policy involved administering of the World Health Organisation’s approved vaccines on a voluntary basis.

Deyalsingh gave the position following United National Congress senator Wade Mark’s query on if mandatory vaccines would be done given “increasing calls by various segments of the national community for the Government to impose mandatory vaccines.”

On Mark’s further queries, Deyalsingh added, “It’s very sad the UNC continues to push this narrative of ‘mandatory policy.’ Nothing is further from the truth, I’ve said it and the Prime Minister has said it – this is a voluntary policy, not a mandatory one. There is no ‘vaccine mandate’ or ‘forced vaccination’ – that’s the UNC’s position.”

On measures for the local recall of baby formulae imported into T&T that are part of a US Food and Drugs administration notice, Deyalsingh said last Saturday the Chemistry Food and Drug Divisions went on the FDA website and saw T&T wasn’t listed as an importing country.

However, he said the division got notification that day from Massy Distributors that they may have had some stock.

The division engaged in stock reconciliation based on the lot numbers provided by the US FDA, discovered some of the products were in T&T and the Health Ministry last Sunday issued a press release on measures to be taken by retailers and the public to safeguard health. This included listing all the batch numbers of the recalled products. They were also advised to return the product to the point of purchase where possible.

Deyalsingh said the products were no longer on the market and were recalled.

“In our talks with the local distributor, they have assured us that through their recall and sensitisation of retailers, at this time there should be no product on the shelves.”