Reports of very long lines and large crowds as citizens went to health centres across the country, this morning, to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
As a result of technical issues with the appointment system it implemented, the Health Ministry has now moved a walk-in system / ‘first-come-first-served’ system at health centres, which gets underway today, Wednesday 9th June 2021. However, only healthcare workers, and people over 60 years of age, and people under 60 years of age with NCDs are eligible at this time.
The Ministry stated the number of vaccinations per day will be based on the capacity at the various facilities.
Guardian Media understands that lines were being formed from as early as 6 am, in some places, but physical distancing was not being properly observed in many instances.
In Point Fortin, the lines reportedly stretched for several metres from the Point Fortin Health Centre to the bank.
In Diego Martin, citizens also found themselves in long lines, waiting their turn for the COVID-19 vaccine. The lines extended all the way around the corner from the health centre for almost a mile. However, images obtained from there show some physical distancing was being practised.
Some persons who arrived just after 7:30 am spoke with Guardian Media and said health officials assured them that everyone in the line, who was eligible for vaccination, would receive their vaccine today.
Many citizens were disappointed when they turned up at the Chaguanas Health Centre today, only to be told the staff was only dealing with people over 60 years. The staff also said they only had 200 vaccines available.
One person who spoke with Guardian Media, Navin Kalpoon, said when he went to the St Helena Health Centre for his shot, he was told the shots would be administered from noon, today. However, people had been lining up at the health centre since roughly 6 am.
Navin subsequently made his way over to the Cunupia Health Centre after 7 am, where he encountered chaos and long lines.
“It is real chaos here this morning. People are crowding up the place; there is no social distancing,” Navin said.
He told Guardian Media that when the police finally turned up at the centre, they indicated they may have to shutdown the centre because of the crowds.
“People are skipping the line and frustrating the entire process,” Navin told us. “It is so bad, the police said they will have to close the gates.”
Guardian Media understands that the gates to the Cunupia Health Centre were closed by police officers at about 7:40 this morning, in a bid to gain control over the crowds.
There also was confusion at the Arouca Health Centre this morning, as hundreds turned up for vaccination only to be told to return at 1:00 pm, because clinic started at 8:00am. Guardian Media understands the security guards on duty were struggling to maintain social distancing and order at the site.