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Jonathan and Chelsea Joseph after getting the Pfizer vaccine at NAPA, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday.

Fully vaccinated students in Forms 4 to 6 will be allowed to attend in-person classes from October 4 but Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley could not say yesterday whether teachers will be held to the same standard.

“We took a lot of time, put a lot of effort and made a lot of resources available to the teaching population. I don’t have a figure and I don’t think the Minister (of Health) has a figure because I don’t think we have counted heads,” Rowley said.

“But what we do know is that very many teachers are vaccinated and quite a few are not.

“We don’t want to get into a situation where we spend valuable teaching time for these students fighting over vaccine enforcement for teachers.”

He added, “What we have done, though, is ensure that the students who will be exposed to that population of teachers, vaccinated or unvaccinated, that those students have the added protection of being vaccinated themselves.

“So the protection is not in the vaccinated teacher, it is in the vaccinated student.”

However, Rowley said he expected teachers to “be responsible” in not only protecting themselves but in protecting the students.

“In this matter, our response to this virus is not only about yourself, it is about other people,” he said.

Currently, only 39,000 children have been vaccinated although the Pfizer vaccine remains largely available to persons from ages 12-18.

“Surprisingly, maybe not so, we are not anywhere near the target that we had set,” he said.

Rowley said the Government made every effort to push vaccination numbers in order to get the children back out to school.

“I can tell you we worked night and day. I stopped counting the number of meetings I had with US officials and Pfizer officials and the number of documents I’ve had to sign and we did that with the full knowledge that if we get a supply of Pfizer vaccines, that vaccine being the only one approved for youngsters from 12 upwards, if we get that, we can vaccinate those children and give them what they have been deprived off for the last year and a half … Which is that part of their education which they can only get at the school house,” he said.

He said that children were facing the same symptoms of deprivation as adults who lost their jobs or their businesses.

“That is a significant loss,” he said, adding children and teachers will be masked at all times in the new system.

Back in September, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said some 9,000 vaccines were made available to the teaching service and teachers were also being allowed access to the Pfizer vaccine.