Long lines outside the Freeport Health Centre on Friday. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Hundreds of disgruntled pensioners showed up on Friday morning outside district health facilities in Central hoping to get selected for vaccination. Some even called for the head of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, whom they said should resign. 

As far as 66-year-old Dood Aliasgar is concerned, the health minister is to be blamed for the present fiasco.

“He should resign long time; he is fooling the people,” he said.  “First, he started with masks… ‘Masks is not important’.  I don’t know if you all remember that.”

Aliasgar, a resident of Waterloo, Carapichiama, said he has been coming out for the last three days to the Freeport Health Centre hoping to get selected for the vaccine. He said on Thursday the officials at the health centre took around 90 persons.

“This is real stupidness,” he complained.  “This reminds me of the days when you used to go for your passport or American visa, the set of line, you had to line up the night before.”

He told Guardian Media: “You not getting the vaccine.  When you go inside, is a chit you will get, and you have to come back later for the vaccine.” 

Aliasgar said he left home at 5 am and met a large crowd already standing outside the health centre.

“I feel if I ent get through today, this system really sucks,” he said.

Aliasgar admitted to being hesitant, at first, to take the vaccine but was encouraged by his wife following the death of a relative in Canada.

“You don’t just rush things. You do your research. At one time from the beginning, I didn’t want to take it, but after talking to a few family (relatives) who took it, the wife said I should go an take it, when I see how people dying. I had a brother-in-law in Canada, he had the first shot and he end up dying,” he said.

Other pensioners complained that the alphabetical system was waste of time.

“The Minister of Health acts as if he does not know what to do. I wonder who advising him.  They should give a preference to the elderly persons first. What alphabetical order has to do with this? I want to know if the virus does attack people in alphabetical order,” said a 67-year-old woman who wished not to be identified.

“I came here, I saw one set of young people in the line, Venezuelans, and we have to struggle to get the vaccine. I have pressure and sugar,” she said, referring to hypertension and diabetes, “and I don’t know what to do. They are giving out 50 chits for vaccines, which means some people in the line would have to come back again on a next day and risk catching the disease. If the numbers go up, you know how it happen.”

At Couva, persons started lining up at the break of dawn outside the Couva District Hospital.

79-year-old Joseph Gonzales, of Indian Trail, said he had been in the lines since Wednesday and was hoping to get his first does on Friday. Gonzales also knocked the system.

“If they do it the right way, it may work. If they say A alone come out,” he said, referring to persons with surnames beginning with the letter A, “but it looks like the whole alphabet came out.”

Hugh Austin, a resident of California, left home at 5 am and arrived at 5:10 am. 65-year-old Austin said he was number 100 on Thursday and was blanked. Austin said he did not want to miss the boat again on Friday.

Guardian Media understands that around 5:25 am, police advised persons that only 50 persons would be selected to get the vaccine and started counting out places up to 50. However, the police advised persons other than the chosen few to social distance and remain until the facility opened at 8 am, in case additional vaccines were available.