Health ministry to hold talks on covid19 vaccine for children 5-11


Daequinn Richardson, 12, of Happy Haven School, Signal Hill got his second Pfizer shot along with mother Natoya Reid in Plymouth, Tobago on September 28, 2021. Government will discuss the vaccination of children five-11 based on WHO-approval for its use in this age group. – David Reid

THE Ministry of Health, over the next few weeks, will be in consultations with stakeholders about the rollout of a covid19 vaccine for children between the ages of five-11.

At Saturday’s virtual media conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved emergence use of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid19 vaccine.

“The chief medical officer will convene his technical advisory group on Monday to dissect and digest the updated interim guidelines which WHO put out yesterday (Friday).

“We will also be conferring with, as we always do before launching a new vaccine, PAHO and CARPHA to look at their technical guidelines and technical details,” Deyalsingh said.

He explained the consultations must be done before a national rollout could be implemented, but he was unable to give a timeframe by which it would be made available to the age group.

“At a previous press conference, the information at that time was that the Pfizer vaccine for five-11 may have been a slightly different formulation, that is, whilst it is the same vaccine, the dose was going to be different, the buffer and the packaging were going to be different.

“What we have to do with this update that the WHO put out yesterday (Friday) is to see if it speaks to that, or if it speaks to the fact that the current vaccine we have can be used by changing the dosage as said in the release,” he explained.

The Ministry of Health, he added, will also undertake a national education campaign for health workers who have to administer the vaccine and key stakeholders, the Ministry of Education and the Tobago health officials.

Deyalsingh said, “I personally have been in contact, at a national level with Dr Faith BYisrael of the Tobago Regional Health Authority to coordinate not only a national rollout but a national training and sensitisation programme for those who have to administer the vaccine.

“I have also alerted Dr Nyan Gadbsy-Dolly, the Minister of Education because this directly affects school children between the ages of five and 11. We have already reached out to Dr Virendra Singh of the paediatric society, paediatric oncologists at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, and all of these persons would be invited to examine the document and examine the way forward with their recommendations for a national rollout.”

Currently in TT, he said there were about 150,000 children between the ages of five-11 and the decision of mandatory vaccinations for that age group was dependent on legislation.

“The issue of mandatory vaccines for that age group has already been addressed by both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General and it depends on what legislation comes. So let’s wait on that,” Deyalsingh said.

The Prime Minister said in October, last year, that once WHO approved the vaccine for children five years and older, it will be put on the list of mandatory vaccines for children to attend public school.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds on Saturday said that to date, of the 11 deaths among children, two were under one-year old and some presented comorbidities.

“We do not have information about which variant may have been in play because it is not a routine that would be sequenced but we have been basically in the midst of a delta variant surge. Omicron is only now becoming a competitor for that.

“Some of them had various comorbidities, some of them from birth and we would not go into the actual details of what they would be. And in the ones who were under a year those comorbidities may have been present from birth or things that may have affected the pregnancy leading to the birth,” he said.

On Saturday, principal medical officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards reported seven paediatric cases, of which one child was warded in ICU.

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