Pertrena George, centre, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Critical Care Paramedic Arlene Hamblin-Paul, at SAPA, yesterday.

Two new drive-through vaccination sites are in the “soft-testing” phase as the Ministry of Health prepares for mass vaccination rollout tomorrow.

Speaking at the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 update yesterday, Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that the soft testing of the two sites comes after Government tested another drive-through facility at the Couva heliport a few weeks ago.

“We vaccinated 350 persons that day. We took that data and looked at the layout to come up with the best possible layout,” he said.

The sites are at the Ato Boldon Stadium and in Wallerfield.

The site at the Ato Boldon Stadium is being managed by Proman (AG) Ltd, a private energy company in Point Lisas. This company will be vaccinating persons working in the industrial estate and their families.

Deyalsingh said that persons wanting to be vaccinated should come with four people per vehicle.

“The jabbing will be done at all four windows, so our throughput will be heavy,” Deyalsingh said.

Deyalsingh directed those wanting to be vaccinated to download the forms from the Ministry of Health’s website and fill it out before getting to the mass vaccination sites.

The process was soft tested yesterday to prepare for rollout on Wednesday.

Deyalsingh was questioned on why the Ministry of Health was being guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as opposed to taking its own initiative to utilise untested drugs to treat with COVID-19 patients.

“We have taken a decision to go with evidence and science. If we had gone on the bandwagon from the beginning with hydroxychloroquine, persons would have died and then the question would be why had the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health not follow the WHO (World Health Organisation),” Deyalsingh said.

The Minister was questioned on the use of drugs now being tested to treat COVID-19 and said in the absence of data, the Ministry would only use the science to protect the population.

“We have said this before,” he said.

Deyalsingh said that if the country used unapproved vaccines and people died, it would have impacted the nation’s confidence in the vaccination programme.

Deyalsingh also said that vacation camps are still off-limits.

“At this point in time, we are advising against children congregating in camp settings for this August vacation, just as we did for last year. We want to minimise spread and congregation of any type is not to be something we should be doing at this point in time, especially for children who are unvaccinated,” Deyalsingh said.

“Children are known to be superspreaders especially if they are asymptomatic superspreaders and then they would go home and infect their granny,” he said.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated people have entered the country between Saturday and yesterday and are being clinically monitored by the Ministry of Health.

Principal Medical Officer and the Ministry of Health Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards gave the information yesterday at the Ministry’s COVID-19 update.

The question of the surge in the Delta variant and incoming nationals arose at the update and while Richards confirmed that there were increasing incidences of the Delta variant internationally, she maintained that there are no confirmed cases in T&T.

“However, the Ministry of Health and the Government of T&T have implemented several measures to reduce the risk of transmission and entry of the Delta variant,” she said.

These measures include the PCR protocol testing and an eyeball assessment on entry.

Richards said that incoming nationals are “monitored” by the relevant country medical officers.

“We have had a couple unvaccinated persons entering the country between Saturday and present and they are being monitored and their clinical symptoms and testing would be done on day seven of the 14-day period,” she said.

The Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine is currently not recognised in Canada and in some nations in Europe.

While people wanting to travel and be vaccinated with the Sinopharm have indicated that they were willing to take a third vaccine from another manufacturer, Richards advised people to adhere to the WHO.

“As of this time the WHO has given or outlined a dosing schedule for different vaccines based on the brand and the active unit in the vaccine,” she said.

Richards said the present two-dose regime is recommended for AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

“We are guided by this information but of course given the research and ongoing research we will update our protocols and policies as we see fit,” she said.