After last week’s vaccination rollout was suspended to give health officials time to come up with a new and improved plan, yesterday’s exercise again ended with long lines at health centres in South Trinidad.
Elderly people were also caught in heavy rainfall and people queued on the roads and sidewalks outside facilities, awaiting their first jab of the Sinopharm vaccine.
It was left again to good Samaritan Shane Mahabirsingh who set out chairs and tents for elderly people at the Marabella and La Romaine health facilities.
From last Wednesday’s chaos when the walk-in system was launched (later prompting an apology from Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley), to a short-lived alphabetical five-surname grouping system the following day, to yesterday’s rollout of a modified programme targeting seniors aged 65 and over, the crowds continued to gather.
At the Ste Madeleine Health Centre, dozens assembled outside the locked gate with little physical distancing as they waited to be admitted five at a time.
At the La Romaine Health Centre a few tents were provided for waiting people.
However, due to the large turnout, many senior citizens had to sit on the roadside in the pouring rain with only their umbrellas for protection.
An absence of tents at the Princes Town Health Centre meant that the elderly had to brace early morning showers as best they could, some picking up the chairs they walked with and going in search of shelter.
At the Penal Rock Road Health Centre one angry woman said she was turned away for the second time in less than a week.
She said she was there last Friday and was given number 13 but was later told they were only attending to people 60 years and over.
She said after being sent home she found out that a doctor came out and informed people that they were vaccinating anyone who had an appointment.
She said she was told yesterday that they were only dealing with people 65 and over who had an appointment.
Some people who came for the jabs complained they were not treated well by healthcare workers.
Indira Singh and her husband had a 10 a.m. appointment at the Marabella Health Centre, but upon arriving, she said a nurse shouted, “Who come for 10 o’clock go in your car and sit down.”
She said when her husband indicated that they didn’t have a car, they were roughly told to go outside.
Singh said when she told the nurse it was raining, the nurse told them the rain had stopped.
“That’s not the way to talk to people. I feel bad about it,” Singh said.
SWRHA: People had no appointments
After the Express showed people’s complaints on its Facebook page yesterday morning, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) responded in a statement, saying that it “notes videos and pictures circulating on social media of persons 65 and over outside a few of our health facilities. While we strive for an efficient system overlay of the vaccination process, these valued citizens were without confirmed appointments. These persons were so advised by our attending staff to resolve the situation. We continue to remind that SWRHA will call and schedule appointments for persons 65 and over. This process avoids congregating in breach of the current public health regulations.”
The SWRHA said people with appointments who presented themselves at the required time were easily and quickly accommodated.
Reiterating that lines outside the health facilities were people without appointments who choose to walk in and wait despite national advisories, the SWRHA stated that once appointments are adhered to, there will be no congregation of persons.