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A police officer registers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the SAPA mass vaccination site in San Fernando yesterday.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has said that two vaccination sites will come onstream next week specifically for public officers who are seeking to get vaccinated before the Public Service safe zone and furlough policy begins in mid-January.

The first site will be located at the Government Campus Plaza on Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain.

“That site was activated a couple of months ago when we were encouraging public officers to come out so they are familiar with that site. That will be dedicated solely to public officers to make it convenient to them,” he said.

The second site, he said, will be at the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) where two lines will be allocated to this category of workers.

“Any public officer who wants to be vaccinated from Monday, you have these two dedicated sites for you. However, you can still go to any site today (yesterday)/tomorrow to be vaccinated,” he said.

He said mass vaccination sites will be opened today, but will be closed from Friday and will reopen on Monday, January 3.

Meanwhile, Deyalsingh is also assuring there is no shortage of nurses in the country.

Responding to a recent newspaper report, he acknowledged that nurses have left the profession since the pandemic began but said it’s not in any mass exodus.

“Remember, people will leave places of employment for a variety of reasons. In the case of nurses, it could be because they moved from one RHA (Regional Health Authority) to another­—they resign from one to go to another. Two—yes some migration takes place. Three—maternity leave. Four—retirement. So all those reasons will contribute,” he said.

According to the figures collected from the various RHAs, 333 nurses left the profession since the pandemic began. However, in the same breath, nurses have been hired. At the same time, he said 752 nurses were hired which means 419 more nurses are working in the public healthcare system than when the pandemic began.

He said he also signed off on adding more nurses to the arsenal from Cuba.

“Just today (yesterday) I would have signed on to recruitment of 40 extra Cuban nurses remembering that we had brought in 25 Cuban nurses around October of this year,” he said.

The Minister of Health said 410 nurses recently graduated, the majority of whom were employed in the public healthcare system.