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Sixty and over? The vaccine is your protector.

Contained in the memories of older people are the stories of our communities. Through their misted eyes, we remember the world as it used to be. Through their words, we learn of our history, of how we became who we are today. How do we regard older persons in our society? As elders or older people? As sources of wisdom or a drain on resources?

In TT, as elsewhere, the new story is one of greater life expectancy. In the 1960s, we expected men to live to about age 62; women, 66. In 2021, life expectancy in both age groups has increased by ten years.

Medical improvements, greater awareness of healthy lifestyles and managing stress have all opened up the possibility of many of us living well into our 90s. Just this week, we celebrated another centenarian in Tobago.

The COVID-19 vaccine—A chance for a better quality of life

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness affecting the lungs. Older persons with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are particularly vulnerable to infection. Increasingly, we are learning how distressing the pandemic has been for older persons. Stories of loneliness and isolation are emerging. Many are without a partner or family to care for them and suddenly cut off from even the small circles of comfort they once enjoyed.

Thankfully, global data on the effectiveness of the vaccines for older populations is encouraging. Indeed the COVID-19 vaccines do not offer 100 per cent protection.

However, taking it at least provides the immune system with a greater chance of resisting this invasive virus.

In the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organization has collaborated with the Government of T&T to prioritise older persons to receive the vaccine and increase their protection against this life-threatening disease.

As we continue to live longer, our stories are what sustain us. We need the stories of older persons. They define us as a people and keep us grounded as a nation. Fortunately, the COVID-19 vaccine offers a chance for another narrative—hope.

Vaccinate today….live tomorrow!