3252007
A police officer tries to control the crowd waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine at SAPA yesterday.

The first day of the Canada-donated AstraZeneca vaccine rollout yesterday saw scores of people seeking the vaccine for various reasons, including for travel purposes, but it was not without issues.

The rollout flow at the Southern Academy for Performing Arts was temporarily disrupted by the police due to concerns that there was no social distancing, while some people complained that it was disorganised. The mass vaccination sites throughout the country catered for people seeking the AstraZeneca vaccines and the second dose of the Sinopharm.

In a TTPS release yesterday, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said the police did not shut down the vaccination drive at SAPA. Rather, he said due to the large number of persons expected for appointments and walk-ins, as well as the inclement weather, people had to break their lines to seek shelter. He said the organisers had catered for 1,000 people at the site. Noting that the police were assigned to monitor the event, he said because of the rain, operations at SAPA were disrupted for a short while. He gave the assurance that the police will be out today when more people are expected.

However, shortly before 9.30 am, an officer expressed concern to the organisers that there was no social distancing where people were being registered.

Before this occurred, however, Nirvana Deonarine said she had no problem booking the online appointment.

“But, coming here with the amount of persons and stuff, I think things could have been better at the venue.”

Deonarine said she chose to take the AstraZeneca vaccine for travel purposes and because it is more recognised in other countries.

Dulalchan Chattergoon, who came for the second dose of the Sinopharm, was not pleased with the system. He suggested that the building be opened to accommodate people waiting to receive their vaccines.

“The police tell we line up on the side here but the rain still beating we…” he explained.

Chattergoon decided to leave and return another day.

Meanwhile, Andrea Berger-Rampersad said she took the AstraZeneca because she wanted to attend university in Canada.

At NAPA in Port-of-Spain, where there were seating accommodations, a woman who gave her name as Catherine said she was taking the AstraZeneca because she wants to visit her children in Canada. She had been waiting for either this vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the country.

“Because I want to see my kids again,” she said.

Another person at NAPA said he did his research and felt AstraZeneca was better suited for him because he is a diabetic.

At the vaccination site at the Queen’s Park Savannah, a man who gave his name as Thomas said his main reason for taking the AstraZeneca vaccine was for travel purposes.

“I don’t want to have a stopgap. What we understand overseas is that some countries say that you can’t really come with Sinopharm. I not sure at the end of the day how that will play out but I just decided I will take the Astra.”

At the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua, some people were not happy with their experience when they first arrived at the site. Speaking with Guardian Media as she was leaving, Stacy Lackyle said, “When you reach inside it is organised but outside it is very disorganised because they have you sitting in your car waiting and then people just coming in and going in and they don’t really have a system in place. But from the time you get on the inside everything is smooth sailing.”

She took the vaccine because of her health issues and for travelling purposes.

Attempts to obtain the number of people vaccinated at various mass vaccination sites from the various regional health authorities were unsuccessful.