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Flashback November 2018: Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh gets a flu virus vaccine from senior nurse Marcia Thomas-Wilson during a vaccination drive at the Tunapuna Market, where the minister was seeking to encourage members of the public to vaccinate.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh is appealing to citizens to do their part to ensure Trinidad and Tobago does not experience other disease epidemics while it is currently grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking during the ministry’s virtual press conference yesterday, Deyalsingh said he foresees that due to the shifting of school to an online platform, parents may not be as strict in adhering to the usual vaccination schedules mandated for their children. Vaccinations are a criteria for students to attend school. He urged parents to maintain these schedules schedule going forward, noting that home-schooling via online platforms could lead to some delinquency on this important aspect of children’s health care.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram acknowledged the fears of many parents who are afraid that their children would contract COVID-19 in the public health facilities if they are taken there for the vaccinations. However, he assured that this was not possible with the current protocols in place.

“We have, from the beginning of this epidemic, created a parallel service so that those with viral-like symptoms go into a separate area, leaving the rest of the health facility free so that you can come in and have your immunisation done in a safe way,” Parasram said.

“Your children would be immunised as quickly as possible as we can and we’d get them back out.”

He said it’s also crucial in the public health system that immunisations “reach a threshold of about 95 per cent of the population to give us herd immunity to protect the vulnerable ones.”

The Health Minister also encouraged citizens to ensure they are not breeding any mosquitoes around their properties with the rainy season now in full swing, noting dengue is also a serious concern at this time of the year.

“The Aedes Egypti (mosquito) likes to breed in and around your home because they need that blood meal when they bite you —the female—to continue their reproductive cycle. It is important for people who own properties (to) inspect your properties in and out for possible breeding sites. They can breed in a bottle cap cover…they can breed in your vases, in your gutterings, in your water tanks, in your buckets,” Deyalsingh said.

“We are trying to preserve our public health. We don’t want to add dengue on top of measles, on top of COVID.” (RK)