Vaccines at one of the Ministry of Health’s mass vaccination sites ran out yesterday, leaving dozens of hopeful citizens disappointed.
They had turned up without appointments and waited hours in line at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
But around 1 pm, they began to leave in droves, having given up for the day.
One woman who spoke to Guardian Media anonymously said she had followed the established procedure of sending her name and health information via WhatsApp.
The woman said she sent several messages to the number advertised by the Ministry of Health for the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) to book vaccine appointments.
She received a response on Tuesday, telling her that an appointment had been made for her at the Paddock for 1pm on Wednesday.
But when she showed up, she was turned away.
“A lady at the gate said ‘No, no, no, our last appointment is at 11 am, another person is saying, “We have given out all the vaccines we have for the day” and there was no explanation. They are actually doubting the validity of my WhatsApp message and when I asked how do they explain this (the text exchange), they said, “We don’t know, the policy changed at 7 pm last night (Tuesday,)” the woman said.
Close to tears, the woman explained she has asthma and was very worried about contracting COVID-19.
Guardian Media spoke to a member of staff, who denied anyone had been turned away. The staff member said no appointments were made via WhatsApp and those with appointments were called to come in.
She said the site’s vaccine allocation had run out and yesterday was their last day in operation. She said the crowds waiting outside the venue did not qualify for the vaccine as all of them were under 60 and had no comorbidities.
The woman later informed Guardian Media that around 2pm, she was given a vaccine at the same site.
Checks at the Morvant Health Centre, the Barataria Health Centre and the Carenage Health Centre all revealed there were no vaccines available.
Members of the public, who showed up hoping to get vaccinated, were turned away and advised to send WhatsApp messages to the NWRHA’s listed numbers.
At all three facilities, nurses said their vaccine allocation finished on Tuesday.
At the Carenage Health Facility, those who turned up were told to monitor the Ministry of Health’s website and traditional media sites for information.
Contacted for comment, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the public is being directed to the ministry’s mass vaccination sites.
Those sites are the Paddock at the Queen’s Park Savannah, the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, the UTT Campus in Charlieville and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts in San Fernando.
Deyalsingh said the decision to move all vaccinations to these site was taken to prevent employee burnout.
“As we keep saying it’s the same workers who man everything from hospitals to step down to quarantine to vaccination. Resources are limited and it’s my job to manage them effectively to serve the public and to prevent employee burnout. I again plead with the public to do their part,” Deyalsingh said.