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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.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is assuring the public that the trivalent vaccine being administered in the public health sector is safe and effective.

During Saturday’s COVID-19 briefing, he said, “There are some issues with the quadrivalent vaccine which we do not use in the public sector that are causing some cause for alarm. In the public sector in T&T, we have always used the trivalent vaccine.”

Lamenting the declining numbers of people availing themselves of the free flu vaccine, Deyalsingh said at the end of week four, only 6,963 vaccines had so far been dispensed.

He said, “We were aiming by now, to be delivering about 10,000 doses of vaccines.”

To date, a total of 27,951 doses of the flu vaccine have been given out, but Deyalsingh said the authorities had been hoping this figure would have been between 35-40,000.

He said following the onset of fall and winter seasons in the larger countries and with repatriation flights bringing home people from the US, Canada and the UK, “They can also be bringing home the influenza virus that is circulating in the Northern Hemisphere at this point.

“It is absolutely vital for key sectors of the population, especially the elderly with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, cancer…those conditions where it causes your immune system to be not as strong as it normally is in a regular healthy person.

“Children between the ages of six months to five years…our pregnant women, please get vaccinated. The vaccine is perfectly safe for both you and your baby regardless of the month of your pregnancy.”

He said they were aiming to get the numbers up to about 10,000 vaccines per week.