fbpx COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions | Ministry of Health

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Vaccine?

A vaccine is a safe, biological substance that is given to a person to help their body create antibodies to reduce the chance of them getting the disease and the chance of severe infection.

Are there vaccines for COVID-19?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines have been developed.

The Ministry of Health uses COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Click HERE for the list of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine helps your body make antibodies to a protein on the virus surface. This allows your immune system to attack the virus and fight off infection if you are exposed.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The Ministry of Health uses COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO is committed to the critical evaluation of all new vaccines for their safety and effectiveness before their authorization for use.

No vaccine will be used until it has undergone rigorous scientific and clinical testing in keeping with the highest vaccine testing standards, as do all other vaccines used in Trinidad and Tobago.

How can a safe vaccine be made so quickly?

For one of the few times in history, the entire world is focused on one global challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic. While vaccine development usually takes a long time, the global community worked together to ensure that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were made available in a shorter time frame.

The shortened COVID-19 vaccine development time frame was due to:

  • Worldwide co-operation and sharing of scientific knowledge
  • Increased funding for vaccine development
  • International prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Application of learnings from previous research on vaccines for coronaviruses
  • Implementation of vaccine development steps in a parallel manner, where possible.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Safety is the top priority of any vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are not approved until clinical trials have taken place that show they are both safe and effective.

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects.

Individuals receiving the vaccine will be monitored at the health facility for 30 minutes after injection.

The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are typically minor and go away within 2 days. These side effects mean that your body is building its immune response or developing your internal protection against the disease.  

The general side effects of the vaccines are:

  • pain, soreness and swelling at the injection site
  • feeling fatigued or tired
  • fever or a high temperature

Rare side effects may occur in vaccine recipients and are specific to the type of vaccine given. Please ensure that you let your health provider counsel you on the side effects prior to taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Persons with a history of severe allergic reactions in general should also talk to their healthcare provider before taking the COVID-19 Vaccine.

People with a history of severe reactions to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine should not take it.

Persons with comorbidities ( e.g. Heart Disease, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer) should consult their physician before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Note:  It is important to answer all of the health screening questions posed by the healthcare professional fully and accurately before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Will the vaccine change my DNA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not make changes to the DNA of the recipient.

Will I have to register to get on the list to receive the vaccine?

The COVID-19 Vaccine will be provided to the population in Phases based on level of risk and level of exposure to the disease.

In the initial stage of the COVID-19 vaccination programme (Phase 1), persons in certain categories will not be required to pre-register or make an appointment for vaccination. Other persons will be required to make an appointment. Further information is included below.

All the relevant information will be placed in the public domain.

It should be noted that persons should have valid identification in their possession and are also encouraged to bring their Immunization card and Clinic card, as applicable, when they go to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Phase 1

In Phase 1 the following groups of people will be eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • healthcare workers
  • the elderly (60 years and over)
  • persons with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (high blood sugar).

NB- The Phase 1 rollout of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme begins with those at the highest risk and highest exposure to the disease, i.e healthcare workers and persons aged 60 years and older with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Other persons in the Phase 1 category will be advised when COVID-19 vaccination will begin for them.

Vaccination of Persons 60 and over with NCDs

Persons who are a part of NCD clinics in the 21 Designated COVID-19 Vaccine facilities will not have to pre-register or make an appointment to get the vaccine. Those aged 60 and over will be offered the vaccine when they come for their NCD clinic appointment. Persons in the public sector NCD clinics who are below this age may also be offered the vaccine on the advice of the clinical team.

Other members of the public who are aged 60 and over with NCDs can call one of the 21 Designated COVID-19 Vaccine facilities to make an appointment on non-NCD clinic days. Click HERE for a listing of these locations and the contact information.

NCDs include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease,
  • Respiratory disease (e.g. asthma, COPD)

This is not an exhaustive list.

Phase 2

  • frontline essential workers ( e.g. teachers, national security personnel, sanitation workers)

Phase 3

Thereafter the vaccine will be administered to all other persons in who it is not contraindicated (i.e. persons over 18 years of age within the recommended categories).

Members of the public will know when the vaccine is available to the various groups of persons through several means, including public information campaigns, the media, and via healthcare providers.

Please be wary of scams that ask for payment to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will cover the cost of the vaccine.

Visit the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine page (www.health.gov.tt/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine) for additional information.

How much will it cost to get vaccinated?

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will cover the cost of the vaccine. You will not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine administered at designated vaccination facilities.

Will more than one dose of COVID-19 vaccine be required?

Some COVID-19 vaccines need to be given in 2 doses and some require only 1 dose.

How will I know when to get my second dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine?

After receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine shot, the relevant information will be recorded on your Immunization Card. The type of COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date received and your next appointment date will be recorded. If you do not have an Immunization card one will be given to you.

Please take note of the next appointment date and return to the same COVID-19 Vaccination Facility for the second dose. Additionally, persons will be contacted to be reminded of their next appointment date.

Where will the COVID-19 vaccine be administered?

Click here to see the list of all the COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Do I need to wear a mask and physically distance from others after receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Yes. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

While the vaccines provide protection against the COVID-19 disease, they have not been shown to prevent the infection of others, so people who are immunized may still be able to spread the virus.

Additionally, it will take approximately 3 weeks after you receive the final dose of the vaccine before the desired immune response occurs.

Following the NEW NORMAL guidelines will help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.

Members of the public should continue to:

  • Wear a mask over the nose and mouth when out in public
  • Keep their distance from others (6 feet)
  • Stay home if ill
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cough into a tissue or into the crook of the elbow
  • Avoid touching their face
  • Clean then sanitize surfaces (e.g. table tops, door knobs and cell phones)

What is Emergency Use License (EUL)?

WHO’s Emergency Use License (EUL) process assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. It is a process applied to authorize the use of a medication or vaccine with less data, if the benefit of the vaccine has been shown to outweigh the risk. EULs can be issued only during a declared emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines that are issued an EUL will continue to be studied and have additional safety monitoring and informed consent and education associated with them.

When will a vaccine be available?

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is expected to begin vaccinating members of the public in the first quarter of 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be given in phases beginning with those at the highest risk of contracting the disease , i.e. healthcare workers and persons 60 years and over with Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Members of the public will know when the vaccine is available to the various groups of persons through several means, including public information campaigns, the media and via healthcare providers.

Who will receive the vaccine first?

Phase 1

In Phase 1 the following groups of people will be eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • healthcare workers
  • the elderly (60 years and over)
  • persons with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (high blood sugar).

NB- The Phase 1 rollout of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme begins with those at the highest risk and highest exposure to the disease, i.e healthcare workers and persons aged 60 years and older with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Other persons in the Phase 1 category will be advised when COVID-19 vaccination will begin for them.

Phase 2

In Phase 2 the following groups of people will be added to the list of those who are eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • frontline essential workers ( e.g. teachers, national security personnel, sanitation workers)

Phase 3

Thereafter the vaccine will be administered to all other persons in who it is not contraindicated (i.e. persons over 18 years of age within the recommended categories).

Why should I take the COVID-19 vaccine?

  1. To protect yourself and your loved ones - By getting vaccinated, you are reducing your risk of disease, hospitalization, severe complications, and even death, for both you and your loved ones.
  2. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe - Only the COVID-19 vaccines that have undergone rigorous scientific and clinical testing in keeping with the highest vaccine testing standards will be given.
  3. The COVID-19 vaccine works - The trial results for the approved vaccines showed that they were very effective at preventing moderate and severe disease, and in most cases, preventing symptoms all together.

Getting vaccinated and reducing the risk of disease also helps prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. It is the responsible thing to do.

How long does immunity last?

COVID-19 is a relatively new virus and thus scientists continue to gather new information about the vaccine continuously. Information about how long immunity from the vaccine lasts is not yet known. Information is limited but the research is ongoing.

COVID-19 vaccines have only been around for less than a year and thus current data seems to indicate that immunity lasts about 8 to 9 months. As time passes and more data becomes available from those who first received the vaccine then this information will be updated.

Can I get other vaccines, like the flu shot, at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?

The average recommended wait time between receiving 2 different vaccines is usually 1 month.  

With specific reference to the flu vaccine you may receive the COVID-19 vaccine 1 week after getting the flu vaccine.

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are not advised to get the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

Persons at higher risk (e.g. a pregnant healthcare worker) should consult their healthcare provider for specific advice.

All people 18 years and older who are NOT pregnant and in who it is not contraindicated should get the COVID-19 vaccine!

It should also be noted that approval has been granted for the administration of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to breastfeeding mothers in Trinidad and Tobago. Thus breastfeeding mothers should ONLY take the Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine at this time.This directive follows the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group’s recent approval of the Sinopharm vaccine for use by breastfeeding women in this country. This vaccine is also approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for use by breastfeeding mothers.

Children and persons younger than 18 years of age

The vaccine has only been tested in adults.

Therefore, at this time, the vaccination of children below 18 years of age, is not advised, even if they belong to a high-risk group.

People with a history of severe reactions to a component in the vaccine

In general, people with a history of severe reactions to any component of any vaccine or medication should not take the particular medication or vaccine.

Additional information on COVID-19 vaccine is available by clicking HERE (https://health.gov.tt/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/learn-more).

Note:  It is important to answer all of the health screening questions posed by the healthcare professional fully and accurately before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Persons with a history of severe allergic reactions in general should talk to their healthcare provider before taking the COVID-19 Vaccine.

If I have mild allergies, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes! Seasonal allergies do not exclude you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Individuals who have had severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, to injectable medication or vaccines in the past should talk to their healthcare provider before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

It is important to answer all of the health screening questions posed by the healthcare professional fully and accurately before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes. Although there is currently limited data on how prior infection with COVID-19 affects the efficacy of the vaccine, it is known that natural immunity to the virus reduces over time. So currently, under the WHO Emergency Use License (EUL), individuals who have previously been infected with COVID-19 are eligible to receive the vaccine, however, vaccination should be given at least 6 months after the COVID-19 infection.

How do I report symptoms after I take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Members of the public can get general information on COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine, report side effects and adverse events by calling the Ministry’s COVID hotlines - 800-WELL (9355) or 877-WELL (9355).

Members of the public can source general information by visiting the COVID-19 page of the Ministry of Health’s website (www.health.gov.tt/covid19).

Vaccine recipients may also report side effects to the nearest health centre or hospital. Questions on what might be considered a side effect related to the vaccine, may also be answered a healthcare professional.

The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are typically minor and go away within 2 days. These side effects mean that your body is building its immune response or developing your internal protection against the disease.

The general side effects of the vaccines are:

  • pain, soreness and swelling at the injection site
  • feeling fatigued or tired
  • fever or a high temperature

What should I bring / do when I come to receive the vaccine?

On Vaccination day

On the day of vaccination persons should:

  • Have a good meal or non-alcoholic beverage
  • Wear clothing that will provide easy access to the upper arm for vaccination
  • Bring to the facility:
    • Valid form of identification (e.g. Driver’s Permit, National Identification, Passport)
    • Immunization Card
    • Clinic Card (where applicable)

After receipt of the 1st dose of the vaccine:

  • Your Immunization Card will be updated with relevant information including the type of COVID-19 vaccine administered, the date received and the next appointment date.
    An Immunization card will be provided for those who do not have a card.
  • Persons will remain in observation for 30 minutes before leaving the facility.
  • Members of the public will be contacted to be reminded of their next appointment date. Persons should return to the same facility for their second dose of the vaccine.

In Trinidad and Tobago, vaccination is voluntary.

Only vaccines that have attained WHO approval and have undergone rigorous scientific and clinical analysis, in keeping with the highest vaccine testing standards, are used in Trinidad and Tobago.

Will I be given the option to decide which COVID-19 I receive?

Eligible persons should take the first COVID-19 vaccine that becomes available to them, once there is no medical reason which prevents them from taking that particular vaccine (not clinically contraindicated).

In Trinidad and Tobago, vaccination is voluntary.

Only vaccines that have attained WHO approval and have undergone rigorous scientific and clinical analysis, in keeping with the highest vaccine testing standards, are used in Trinidad and Tobago.

While it is intended that all persons who fall within the recommended categories should get the COVID-19 vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered in phases based on level of risk and exposure to the disease.

Phase 1

In Phase 1 the following groups of people will be eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • healthcare workers
  • the elderly (60 years and over)
  • persons with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (high blood sugar).

NB- The Phase 1 rollout of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme begins with those at the highest risk and highest exposure to the disease, i.e healthcare workers and persons aged 60 years and older with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Other persons in the Phase 1 category will be advised when COVID-19 vaccination will begin for them.

Phase 2

In Phase 2 the following groups of people will be added to the list of those who are eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • frontline essential workers ( e.g. teachers, national security personnel, sanitation workers)

Phase 3

Thereafter the vaccine will be administered to all other persons in who it is not contraindicated (i.e. persons over 18 years of age within the recommended categories).

Click Here for more COVID-19 Q&As

HEAD OFFICE

Ministry of Health
63 Park Street
Port-of-Spain 100607
Trinidad and Tobago

+1 (868)-627-0010
+1 (868)-627-0011
+1 (868)-627-0012

EMERGENCY CONTACTS

Ambulance: 811

Police: 999

Fire: 990

ODPM: 511

TEMA: 211

COVID HOTLINE

800-WELL

877-WELL

CONTACTS TO REMEMBER

Insect Vector Control: 800-IVCD

Chemistry, Food and Drugs: 800-CFDD

Chronic Disease Assistance: 800-CDAP

STAY CONNECTED