Staff, patients pleased with SAPA covid19 vaccination drive

Krishna Samaroo show off his injection point after receiving the covid 19 vaccine at SAPA San Fernando. - Lincoln Holder
Krishna Samaroo show off his injection point after receiving the covid 19 vaccine at SAPA San Fernando. - Lincoln Holder

THE addition of the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) as a mass covid19 vaccination site was a welcome change for patients and staff at the South-West Regional Authority (SWRHA).

The national vaccination rollout programme resumed on Monday morning at 8 am.

Previously, the SWRHA sites for vaccinations were the Ste Madeleine, Marabella, La Romaine, Siparia, Princes Town, Point Fortin, Freeport and Couva facilities.

When Newsday visited those health centres over the past few weeks, there were some hiccups and mixups with appointment dates, among other things. But generally, the process seemed to be running smoothly.

Newsday visited the Ste Madeleine and La Romaine centres on Monday morning but met only two people waiting to be vaccinated.

But at SAPA, there were several people leaving who had just received their first jab and many waiting to do so.

Retired English teacher Krishna Samaroo, 66, said he was a bit worried some weeks ago after hearing a man had died days after receiving his first jab. The Health Ministry has since said that death was unrelated to the vaccine.

Samaroo said he had to wait a bit, but he did not mind.

He lives in Chaguanas.

"I did double bypass (heart) surgery in 2013, so that's one of the reasons I was concerned.

"My daughter-in-law works at the Marabella Health Centre and she called me.

The waiting area at SAPA, San Fernando where the covid 19 vaccines are being administered. - Lincoln Holder

But then there was this case with the person who died and then (late energy minister) Franklin Khan (whose death was not caused by the vaccine but died days after receiving it)...I was a little hesitant."

But he said news of the Brazilian variant of the virus, P1, was even more worrying.

"It's getting very scary and this thing not easing up.

"But the procedure here is well-co-ordinated."

A group of five family members set appointments for the same day and told Newsday they too were pleased with their experience. They said they were attended to within five minutes of arriving at the designated waiting area.

Patients wait under a white tent where an employee brings a list of names to confirm who showed up for their appointments. After this, they are called inside to be vaccinated.

The five said they were all in their early 40s.

Daren Dhoray said, "I came mentally prepared for it...I just found the 30-minute waiting time was a very long 30 minutes," he joked.

Another of the group said, "It was really smooth here, the process was really fast."

They said they had already ensured their elderly family members got vaccinated, too.

Mushtaque Mohammed, president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association, said he wanted to ensure he got vaccinated before travelling, since he is due to go to the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He will serve as the international technical official.

"Thank God the Prime Minister opened this up. I am glad I was able to get one. Praise God.

"I was a walk-in, so I had to wait a bit for the people who had appointments. But my wife had a 9 am appointment, and by 10 am she was out."

Around noon, a staff member told Newsday over 100 people had already been vaccinated and praised them for showing up on time for their appointments.


"Staff, patients pleased with SAPA covid19 vaccination drive"

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