Rosy Singh, right, who received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Marabella Health Centre, yesterday, speaks with Larry Hewitt, who had problems in making an appointment to receive the vaccine at the same location.

Tuesday marked a critical moment in Trinidad and Tobago’s fight against COVID-19 as the government rolled out its national vaccination programme. The virus has claimed the lives of 145 people and infected over 8,000, it has also torn through the country’s economy, crippling businesses and leaving many without jobs.

The inoculation drive commenced a week after the country received its first shipment of 33,600 Oxford Astrazeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility and citizens grabbed the opportunity to improve their chances of fighting the disease.

At vaccination centres in south Trinidad, elderly members of the public turned up, rolled up their sleeves, and had the vaccination administered to them after making the necessary arrangements.

Rosie Singh of Gasparillo said she received a call from the San Fernando General Hospital instructing her to show up at the Marabella health centre. She said she was undeterred by naysayers.

“I waited half an hour, I am okay. I was not scared although a lot of people saying they don’t want to take it because they are afraid they may die, I am the first from my family and I’ll come back for the booster shot.”

Henry Young said while he was apprehensive, he did not hesitate when he was called in for the jab yesterday.

“I was told to come to this centre and walk with my ID card, as it pertains to the vaccine, it is something strange, I am kind of jumpy but I’m trying to settle myself, the feeling is not normal.”

While scores queued up at health facilities across the country, not all were able to vaccinated as they either lacked the necessary documents or were unable to make the required arrangements as was the case of Kenneth Phillip.

“I came to get the vaccine but they say you have to make an appointment first, I getting some trouble with the phone, when they answer I don’t know how to go to some keypad to get number 2, the phone going blank after, so this is my problem.”

According to Phillip, the system could have been more organized.

Larry Hewitt also lamented the problems he faced with accessing the vaccination programme which he said continues to leave him and his wife vulnerable to contracting coronavirus.

“I come to them, what happening and they tell me to keep on calling the number. Since last Thursday I calling and can’t get through, I feel disgusted and disturbed.”

Before Tuesday’s rollout of the national vaccination drive, one thousand healthcare workers were vaccinated from the batch of 2,000 vaccines received as a gift from Barbados.