There was a low turn-out on the first day of the Tobago Regional Health Authority’s (TRHA’s) drive-through vaccination initiative in Roxborough yesterday, with only 45 people utilising the facility by midday.
The prospect in numbers was well short, since the authority is hoping to vaccinate 300 people per day. Based on feedback, residents in Tobago East seemed to prefer the Sinopharm vaccine, as only 18 people availed themselves of the Oxford AstraZeneca option.
A similar operation was set up at the Shaw Park Cultural Facility in Scarborough last week, where 1,600 people were vaccinated.
However, Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine yesterday urged people to avail themselves of the vaccines, noting additional sites will be added, especially in areas where there are increased cases of infection.
The Health Secretary said the concern is no longer availability or options, so people should get vaccinated, adding even more vaccination sites will be brought on stream from next week.
She said they recently commissioned vaccination sites in those areas that can be considered hot spots to service the Plymouth/Golden Lane area and in the Mason Hall area because they realised a number of persons are coming out and also testing positive as well.
Davidson-Celestine said she believes that vaccine hesitancy was due to misinformation and lack of information. She warned if that approach prevails, it could quickly become detrimental, as seen in other Caribbean countries.
“If you pay attention to Caribbean news, you would see that Jamaica, our Caribbean neighbour, where they are saying now the large percentage of persons who are unvaccinated, their ICU is now overcrowded and their hospitals are now overcrowded. I don’t want us to get to that point in Tobago because we don’t have the human resources to be able to provide that level of care.”
She said the TRHA will launch several awareness campaigns next week in order to address the concerns and inform persons about the importance of taking the vaccines and called on all THA Assemblymen and MPs to urge persons to get vaccinated.
Goodwood resident Katherine Stewart said she took the vaccine because she was concerned.
“Just look at what is happening, within two days we have a hundred and one new cases, and every day someone dies. Even though I am not 100 per cent comfortable with the vaccine, I took it because I want to be protected.”
Stewart admitted her adult children were divided on taking the vaccines for themselves and their children.
Meanwhile, Delaford resident Dave Lewis said he took the vaccine because he felt it was the right thing to do.
“I never had a problem with taking the vaccine. I meant to do it at some point, the drive-through was nice and easy, no fuss and I feel good.”
Primary Care Nurse Manager Kathy Ann Ottley revealed that vaccinations were simultaneously administered at the Roxborough Health Facility, where 36 people were vaccinated up to the time she spoke. She said the demand for vaccination increased with the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines.
“From the time we set up the AstraZeneca page for registration, we had about 200 persons calling in their appointments and within the first 12 hours, we had about 120 persons registered. Today, we have over 300 persons-plus registered for AstraZeneca.”
Ottley said the demand for AstraZeneca outgrew the original distribution site at the Scarborough Health Centre and as of Monday (August 16), people who have chosen to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca will have to visit the Magdalena Grand Hotel site on their appointed dates.
Independent Senator and paediatrician Dr Maria Dillon-Remy was a volunteer at the Roxborough site representing the T&T Medical Association.
“I have seen children die from not having vaccinations over the years and as a result of vaccines, we have not seen things like polio, mumps and rubella, so for me, as a member of the public and a medical practitioner who has practised here for years, I want to urge Tobagonians to come out and get vaccinated.”
She said during her time at the drive-through vaccination sites, she was able to address the concerns of some of the volunteers and they felt comfortable enough to take the vaccine.