Trinidad and Tobago: Vaccination experiences of UNC’s MPs clear out all doubts over the COVID-19 vaccine. Several Opposition parliamentarians have gotten the Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
However, some said that pockets of constituents suffer from vaccine jitters following the deaths of 60-year-old Ijaz Haniff and Energy Minister Franklin Khan, who died days after receiving the vaccine. Health authorities have maintained there is no evidence to suggest their deaths are related to the vaccine.
The Express spoke to several of the 19 sitting United National Congress MPs in the House of Representatives who have taken the vaccine.
The eldest member of Parliament, Naparima MP Rodney Charles, 72, who took the vaccine on April 6 at the St Madeleine Health Centre, told the Express by phone that he suffered no side effects and attributed it to his active lustrous lifestyle as he swims two hours every other day and eats healthy.
Charles said some constituents are reluctant, and he has to respect their decision. ‘There have been some concerns. I think it’s a judgment everybody has to make.
I will encourage them to take the vaccine, but at the same time, I have learnt the views of those who tell me they have serious reservations. They prefer to wait and see what happens to other people before they take it, and I have to abide by their wishes because a lot of these people are responsible people,’ he said.
Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, 51, said he got some pains and fever, which lasted for about 24 hours after taking his jab last Thursday at St Joseph Health Centre.
Indarsingh said people have become fearful, including his mother. He said his 73-year-old mother, who suffers from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and dialysis, was scheduled to take the vaccine but cancelled.
‘Based on what transpired with the gentleman in Princes Town and whatever rumours swirling in the public domain, she changed her mind. I’ve been unable to convince her otherwise,’ he stated.
Indarsingh stated he was informed by nurses that there had been several cancellations even when he was at the St Joseph Health Centre.
Indarsingh responded given his mother’s health condition, he does not want to put a mental strain on her, but he hopes with time, the confusion about the vaccine is cleared up, and he would be able to convince her to take it.
Moruga MP Michelle Benjamin, 35, stated she would be taking the vaccine this week.
Noting that Haniff, who was her constituent, was from Princes Town, she said his death had triggered fears among the elderly, especially those suffering from heart disease, to take the vaccine. She said some are taking it, but some are reluctant, and she advised them to consult with their doctors.
Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, 50, said he and his elderly parents took the vaccine last Thursday and suffered no side effects. ‘I have had difficulties in encouraging persons to come forward to have the shots. Since the two deaths, I expect the demand to slow down,’ he stated.
Paray told residents should do their research and speak to persons who have received the shots. ‘If you are over 50 with NCDs, discuss it with your physician. If you are under 50 with no co-morbidities, go for it,’ he stated.
Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, 42, said he took the vaccine last Saturday at the St Joseph health facility. ‘I am experiencing severe body aches and tiredness, but my doctors advise me that these are expected side effects,’ he stated.
Rambally declared he is aware that people in his constituency have expressed reluctance to get the jab to fear getting side effects. Still, a measured approach would be to balance the risks or get the coronavirus versus the vaccine’s side effects.
‘Right now, the variants of the virus are becoming more threatening to life. The number of infected persons is increasing. Without herd immunity, our country could be grappling with this pandemic for a longer time.
Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, 62, stated he took his vaccine last Saturday at the Marabella Health Centre and did not experience any significant symptoms.
‘I think it is an important part of the battle in the future. I know there are concerns with safety issues and so on,’ he stated. He also urged that patients who qualify – who are 60 and over and frontline healthcare workers – consult with their doctors before taking the vaccine.
Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes, 34, took her jab at the Marabella Health Centre on Saturday and suffered no side effects. She stated her constituents had expressed hiccups with the hotline to make appointments.
Haynes said some had called her, expressing hope that Government would give some thought to the vaccination of the spouses of frontline workers.
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, 54, said he would be taking the vaccine. ‘My constituents have been adamant that I should take the vaccine soonest given the explosion in cases and risk associated with persons in public life,’ he stated.
Camuto Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir, 58, said he took the vaccine on Saturday at the St Joseph Health Centre.
‘The only symptom I had was a mild soreness at the injection site and a bit of a headache yesterday. I am thankful I got symptoms which means the vaccine invokes my immune system,’ he stated.
Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein, 30, said he hopes to take the vaccine after Ramadan regarding the anticipated side effects.
He said that is a mixed review from constituents as some have taken the vaccine and others are a bit hesitant.
Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo, 56, said he would wait before taking the vaccine. ‘I think there are people in greater need at this point and who are more exposed than I am and should have the vaccine. I’m not afraid of taking the vaccine,’ he stated.
He stated several persons, including market vendors, are worried they do not have access to the vaccines, and there would not be enough.