Senior citizen Oswald Duke said he was turned away from the Barataria Health Centre on Wednesday when he went to get the covid19 vaccine because he was told the health centres haven’t reached his age group as yet.
Duke spoke to Newsday outside the Barataria Health Centre on Wednesday, shortly after speaking to one of the nurses inside.
He said he registered at the health centre two weeks ago for both him and his wife to be vaccinated.
“I listen to local news all day,” he said. “The local news said go down to your nearest health centre and register to get this thing, people who are 65 and over. I am 74.”
Duke said he was told he would receive a call-back to confirm the appointment. When the couple did not hear back from the health centre, Duke’s wife called on Wednesday to check on the status of their registration.
Duke said a representative told his wife they had to come down to the centre to fill out a form. He said he got dressed right away and came to the centre.
He said a nurse told him the vaccines are being given to healthcare workers now and distribution for his age group has not yet started.
“My age group could be for poor people. They are giving people in my age group already. Ranks have its privileges in this country.”
Duke said he is not registered with a clinic for any non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and neither is his wife, nor do they suffer from any ailments.
The Ministry of Health's website says the phase one rollout of the vaccine is for healthcare workers and people 60 and over with NCDs such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (high blood sugar).
Duke said the representative from the health centre who spoke to his wife on Wednesday morning should have asked if they had already registered, and informed her over the phone that they had not yet reached their age group, as opposed to having him come down to the centre.
Duke said he was upset at the way he was spoken to at the centre.
CEO of the North-West Regional Health Authority Salisha Baksh, in a brief phone interview with Newsday on Wednesday, said the nurse may have used the wrong term.
“I think (the nurse) meant to say they haven’t reached his (Duke’s) category as yet.”
She said because Duke is not registered with an NCD clinic, the centre would take his contact information and give him an appointment for a later date. She said NCD patients already registered with a clinic will be given priority.
At a press conference on April 1, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry is targeting 40,950 NCD patients 60 and over.
He said although the number of AstraZeneca vaccines currently available (33,600) will not cover all NCD patients, the remainder will be accommodated when the second tranche of vaccines arrive before phase two of the vaccination rollout begins.
Deyalsingh said appointments can be made at the clinics and NCD patients over 60 who are not registered with a clinic can call one of the 21 vaccination centres to make an appointment.