The Vaccine Hesitancy Hotline number. (Image courtesy TTNCDA and PAHO)

Persons with concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccination will have an opportunity to have their questions answered and fears allayed by medical professionals, with the availability of The Vaccine Hesitancy Hotline—a joint project of the Trinidad and Tobago Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (TTNCDA) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The hotline, which will operate for an initial period of two months, is aimed at providing an avenue for persons to speak to a doctor regarding their concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. The hotline, 607-VAXX (8299), is staffed by volunteer physicians and hotline operators and is operational Monday-Friday, from 1 pm to 7 pm. 

A statement from the Trinidad and Tobago Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (TTNCDA) explains the hope is persons who are now vaccine hesitant or disinterested would reconsider the vaccine once their concerns are addressed on an individual level.

The TTNCDA quotes recent data published by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), which notes that unvaccinated people had a 6.1 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19, and an 11.3 times greater risk of dying from the disease.

“This is of particular concern for the TTNCDA, as persons living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions have been seen to be at greater risk of succumbing to the virus,” the release says.

“In almost every country in the world, vaccine hesitancy is driven by an abundance of misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine from sources with little to no credibility. We believe that giving hesitant persons an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a physician, their particular concern can be addressed,” it added.

The TTNCDA is encouraging persons who are vaccine hesitant to reach out to their trusted primary health care physician to get credible information about COVID-19 vaccination.

“If this resource is not available to them, due to financial, mobility or other constraints, the project provides and facilitates access to a doctor by calling our hotline,” the group says.

The project is supported by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and has two components.

1. The Vaccine Hesitancy Hotline – The hotline is staffed by volunteer hotline operators and physicians. The hotline allows callers to have their concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine addressed by these doctors. The hotline is operational Monday to Friday from 1pm to 7pm. The hotline hours of operation will be increased in the coming days.

2. Social Media Campaign – The campaign involves posting of educational materials, addressing commonly asked questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine. An emphasis is also placed on the impact of COVID-19 on Persons living with Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCDs)

About the TTNCDA

The Trinidad and Tobago Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (TTNCDA) is an organization guided by a vision to be the lead coordinator and voice of civil society in the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Members of the TTNCDA are Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society, Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago Heart Foundation, Heartbeat International of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Sport and Development Agency, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for Tobacco Control, Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dieticians, Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago and Chest and Heart Association of Trinidad and Tobago.