UNC Senator Anil Roberts answers a question during the party’s media conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Renuka Singh

Opposition senators yesterday blamed the Government is not doing enough to educate the population on the need for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the past week, the Ministry of Health has re-jigged its messaging and used social influencers and community leaders to push the vaccination drive but yesterday Senators Anil Roberts, David Nakhid and Damien Lyder said it was just not enough.

To date, neither Roberts nor Lyder has taken the jab and Nakhid refused to give his vaccination status, saying that he did not need to as T&T is not a Communist state.

Nakhid did say that he held “fast that all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago after consultation with their doctor, who then receive the clearance to take the vaccine should do so immediately.”

“I remain extremely disappointed and indeed angry that this Government in no way did their best to procure the best vaccines with the highest efficacy rates and in the quickest time possible, which would have allowed an expeditious reopening of a now comatose economy, and protected the lives and livelihoods of our people,” Nakhid said.

“In keeping with the stated declaration of our Opposition Leader Mrs Kamla Persad- Bissessar, despite the Government’s failure to accomplish the very minimum, all cleared citizens should seek to be vaccinated and the Government must stop hiding their incompetence and mismanagement of all economic, social and cultural sectors behind the COVID 19 Pandemic, and immediately reopen all sectors of the economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Roberts said he has asthma and was advised by his doctors to take the Pfizer vaccine, if that was not available he was advised to then take the Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and possibly the Russian-made Sputnik, but not the AstraZeneca or the Sinopharm.

Both the AstraZeneca and the Sinopharm are available in T&T and has been part of the Government vaccine rollout.

“I have been waiting patiently, I have missed several sittings of the Senate because this Government has not been able to procure vaccinations that would give us a fighting chance and a healthy choice,” he said.

Roberts said the Government said that 800,000 single jab J&J vaccines were coming in July.

“I was lining up ready to take, those have not arrived,” he said.

Roberts said that the U.S has given out hundreds of the Pfizer vaccine but none have arrived in this country for mass rollout.

“I am glad for those who could travel to go and get the gold, silver and bronze vaccines,” he said but said that with his asthma, he was “at the mercy of this incompetent government”.

Roberts said that he was practically on lockdown, staying away from people because of the Government’s failed vaccination programme.

“It is non-existent,” he said.

“Where is the education programme for the country as a whole? people are hesitant because they don’t have the information. All we are hearing about is a song, take a jab, then we getting bouf, then we getting told if you don’t do this then this would happen, where is the education, where is the information, the pamphlets, the documentaries,” Roberts asked.

His colleague, Damien Lyder also went the health route but said that he did not take the vaccine because of his “very good health”.

“I would opt to wait until I am satisfied that those who are vulnerable in the country get it,” he said.

Parliamentarians were offered the first batch of the Astra Zeneca vaccine but Lyder said he decide to wait.

With regards to the more available Sinopharm, Lyder said that the quantity in the country could not fully vaccinate enough people to get the country to herd immunity.

“I am opting to be in the last to get it, I think that is a more responsible approach,” he said.

Lyder also criticised the Government’s education programme.

“We need to embark on a much more robust and better education campaign because there are a lot of persons who are not necessarily against taking the vaccine but they are hesitant because they don’t know enough about the vaccines,” he said.

When asked whether, as a leader, he would set a better example by taking the vaccine Lyder once again pointed to the failure of the Government’s vaccine education drive.

Meanwhile, Opposition MP for Oropouche East Roodal Moonilal and Senators Jearlean John, Jyanti Lutchmedial, Anita Haynes and Saddam Hussein have all confirmed that they have been fully vaccinated.