Members of the public complained of disorganisation at health centres as people turned out in their hundreds for the covid19 vaccine on Wednesday.
Vaccination sites began accepting walk-ins on Wednesday for the Sinopharm vaccine for certain categories of people, but were overwhelmed by the numbers.
“It was terrible,” said Nanack Mulkhraj, who was at the St Joseph Enhanced Health Centre in Mt Hope with his neighbour Samaroo Padatath since 6.30am. “It wasn’t planned. (But) we have to fight up with it.”
Mulkhraj and Padarath said when they arrived the line of people began at the entrance to the centre and wound around it to the bus shed along the Priority Bus Route, on the other side of the compound.
He said the crowd looked to be a couple of hundred people, who were all standing close together.
The pair was given numbers and told to come back after lunch, but opted to sit under a nearby tree, away from the crowd, and wait for their appointment.
“It’s better we wait one time. We don’t mind that we have to wait hours. We accustomed liming,” he joked.
Another man, who requested anonymity, said he too had been waiting for a long time in line.
“There should have been a pre-designated area to line up,” he complained. “They were not organised.”
He said when people arrived, they were lined up the outside the gate before they were moved to the inside.
“One of the guards moved the line from outside because it went out to the bus route, (and) people who got here early found themselves behind people who got here late.”
He said they were not told how many vaccines were available but 250 numbers were given out to those first in line. Those holding numbers between 150 and 250 were told to return after lunch, and health centre officials collected the names and contact information for the rest to arrange a date for them to return.
“If I don’t get it today I will wait until the demand dies down – maybe in a few months, because I am not going through this twice.”
At the Barataria Health Centre there was a long line of people, beginning from the entrance of the centre, that made its way around the entire block.
Stanley and Sandra Julien said they had been in the line since 7am and had been receiving conflicting information from health centre officials and police.
“Some are saying (people) 50 and over (could stay in the line) and others are saying 60 and over,” said Stanley.
Sandra said when the couple arrived there were many younger people in the line. She said she was surprise, because she had heard on the news that only people over 60 and those under 60 with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) would be allowed to get the vaccine.
“I don’t know if they got the same news that we got, but the health centre representative passed and (talked) to them, so some of them came out of the line.”
Anthony Peters, at the Barataria centre with his mother since 5.45am, said they too had been receiving conflicting information.
“One minute they say they are giving out numbers, the next they say people 50 and over have to come back. All kind of different stories.”
He said they were also told the centre would only take those 60 and over and the rest would have to return on Friday. He said he was not sure if they would be turned away, but decided to wait in line.
There were police at both centres to assist health centre officials in mitigating the crowds.
At the Santa Cruz Health Centre, only 70 people were allowed to receive the vaccine. Those without a number were not allowed in and were told to return on Thursday or Friday.