While there are mixed feelings about the Government’s impending introduction of TT Safe Zones, the threat of being excluded from leisure-type activities is persuading some people to get the COVID-19 vaccines.
With vaccines dubbed “the way out of the 18-month-old pandemic,” scores of people queued up at the Southern Academy for Performing Arts in San Fernando yesterday.
It was in stark contrast to scenes over the last few weeks, when there were no long lines and people were trickling in at the various vaccination sites to get the jab.
Yesterday, many got shots of the Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccines.
Guardian Media observed a steady flow of people showing up at the mass vaccination site for their first shots. There was also a long line of people getting their second doses. It included children, ages 12-18, who are seeking to get back into classrooms, as schools reopen physically on October 4 for vaccinated students.
Siblings Syd and Ty Manswell, ages 15 and 16 respectively, took the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It is the only vaccine currently approved for secondary school-age children by the Ministry of Health.
The Manswells said they both want to finish secondary school education by attending physical classes. They are also looking forward to seeing their school friends.
“Being social, but at a distance,” Syd said.
Their parents also took the vaccine.
Brandon Nancoo travelled from Barrackpore to San Fernando to get his shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Nancoo said it was time to get his protection against COVID-19, adding that his family kept pushing him to get it.
With the reopening of gyms, cinemas, casinos, bars and dining at eateries permitted under the TT Safe Zones, he said it would help him get a job and gain access to restaurants.
“I think it was a good thing, but I am not really sure if it would affect my lifestyle and how I was handling COVID. But I think it is good for the economy and other people. I think it would be useful for a lot of people to have jobs. People will get to work, and I guess it is a move in the right direction,” Nancoo said.
“That is why I came to do it so we could, kind of, move forward together. I think that was the only thing that would hold back everything from finally becoming open. If this is like the only way, well, that is, basically why I am here.”
Shamala Jaglal also got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, saying it was for health reasons. Asked if the incoming TT Safe Zones influenced her decision, Jaglal said it motivated her to get vaccinated.
“You know if you do not take it, you would not be allowed to go certain places, and I believe eventually, we will have to take it,” Jaglal said.
But the implementation of safe zones did not sway her son Marcus towards vaccination.
“None whatsoever, I came just to protect myself, in case I should contract the coronavirus,” Marcus said.
He said he took the vaccine because the virus is spreading, noting the local spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In his case, he wants to have protection against disease.
Meanwhile, hundreds turned up to be vaccinated yesterday at the Queen’s Park Savannah and Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Much like at SAPA in the south, there were long lines of people.
Officials at the Queen’s Park Savannah said people were waiting to be vaccinated before their doors even opened yesterday morning.
Those waiting for the jab told Guardian Media the growing number of Delta variant cases locally had pushed them to seek protection against the virus.
But with the long lines came complaints, as those using the drive-thru mass vaccination site at the Hasley Crawford Stadium were frustrated by the wait as lines snaked around the stadium.
“This is my second dose but the three hours waiting is terrible and it is supposed to be a drive-thru and there are persons walking in, so it is defeating the purpose of you really being here and my son and I waited and he missed school due to the long wait,” one woman stated.
Pensioner Anthony Brown said he was hesitant to take the vaccine. However, he said he contacted his daughter in the United States and she had made him aware of how serious the virus is.
He added that with the Delta variant now circulating in Trinidad, he is ensuring that he is protected.
Another pensioner, Don Lagnanan, said he took his son for his first shot. He explained that he also wanted to ensure he and his family will remain in as good health as possible during this time.
-with reporting by Otto Carrington