Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice- president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James is urging the Government to move with haste to vaccinate the entire population.
At a news conference on Saturday, hosted by the Prime Minister at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the Government is hoping to vaccinate some 134,000 people with both doses of either the Oxford Astra-Zeneca or Sinopharm vaccines by August 31.
He said this figure represents about ten per cent of the population.
Deyalsingh said 60,000 people have already received their first dose of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.
He said another 60,000 doses of the vaccine have been reserved for them. This rollout is expected to begin on June 7.
Deyalsingh also revealed 1,936 people were inoculated on Friday during the initial rollout of the 100,000 Sinopharm vaccine, which arrived in the country from China last week.
TT also recently received a total of 24,000 doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine from St Vincent and Bermuda.
While she acknowledged the Government has made significant strides in vaccinating the population, Birchwood-James said given the staggering spike in new cases, more still needs to be done.
“At this point, what we really need is more vaccines. We need to have them now,” she told Sunday Newsday.
“We have to do mass vaccinations. That is the only thing that can save us. That is the only way we can come out of this.”
Birchwood-James believes Government must also implement programmes to address what she called vaccine hesitancy.
“You have a lot of doctors and nurses who are not taking the vaccine besides the ordinary people. So vaccines and the messaging to deal with vaccine hesitancy. That is all that can save us now.”
Birchwood-James said the sooner the population is vaccinated, the greater the chance of reviving Tobago’s economy.
“Remember, our businesses are closed. Our hotels, while they say we can open, there are no guests.
“We have bills to pay and we, too are worried about our own health and the virus.”
Birchwood-James reiterated Tobago’s tourism sector, which has buckled under the weight of the covid19 pandemic for more than a year, is virtually non-existent.
“We don’t know how we are going to recover. But at this point in time, we are really looking to stay alive. That is the important part.”
At the news conference, the Prime Minister also announced that the covid19 public health restrictions, which were expected to end today, have been extended to July 4.
The state of emergency, which took effect on May 15, is set to be debated in the House of Representatives on Monday.
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