Even though health experts warned people to be ready for the new omicron covid19 variant during the Ministry of Health’s covid19 news conference on Saturday, very few in south Trinidad heeded the call on Sunday to be vaccinated.
On Saturday, molecular genetics and virology professor Christine Carrington pleaded with people to give themselves a fighting chance for when the omicron variant reaches Trinidad and Tobago.
Carrington explained that the variant has 32 mutations on the spike protein and ten mutations on the receptor-binding domain, which could make it spread faster.
When Newsday visited the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) mass vaccination site in San Fernando on Sunday, an official said no more than 50 people were vaccinated at the site for the day.
The turnout was no better at the South West Regional Health Authority’s (SWRHA) vaccination site at Courts’ South Park store, San Fernando, despite an offer for people to get vaccinated and save $500 when they shop there.
Newsday visited the site at 12.30pm and Ariana Weatherhead, one of the ushers, said just over 40 people had had their jabs up to that time, even though the site opened its doors at 9am.
She said only a few people capitalised on the store’s offer.
Weatherhead said, “We’re giving out the Pfizer, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson. A lot of people are here for the Pfizer.
“Not everyone is here for the promotion – I would say the majority.
"This is a very convenient location in comparison to SAPA. A lot of people came and asked questions, because we have doctors on site.”
Since November 24, Courts has been encouraging people to get vaccinated at its stores in San Juan, Freeport, South Park and Lowlands, Tobago.
If they get vaccinated, people will receive $500 off their purchase if they spend more than $1,499. The offer is expected to end on December 5.
Husband and wife Devanand and Deokie Willie were determined to get their second jab at the site on Sunday, not because of the promotion but because they had previously contracted covid19.
Deokie told Newsday, “We got our first shot already in June, but we get the covid. So now that our three months is up, we came to get our second dose.
“The covid19 experience was bad and I don’t want to go down that road again. When I got covid, I almost died because my oxygen and everything went low.
“I stayed a week, and when I was there I saw people die.
“You’re not 100 per cent sure to be protected with the vaccine, but it is a help to prevent you from getting (seriously ill from) the virus.”
The Ministry of Health said people who are not fully vaccinated accounted for 90.9 per cent (5,726 of 6,302) of patients entering the parallel healthcare system between July 22 and November 10.
Princes Town resident Ann Rampersad has been encouraging her friends and family to get vaccinated over the past several months, and on Sunday she accompanied her friend Diana Ramnath to get vaccinated.
Rampersad told Newsday, “I’m already vaccinated, but everyone has to make up their mind.
“I was talking to her (Diana) and then she recently told me that she was ready, so I’m here to help her.
“Since vaccination started, I waited for everyone to make up their minds and then I came to the vaccination sites to support them. I’ve since brought my mom, aunt, husband, brother, niece and friends."
Afraid of contracting covid19 and dying, Ramnath told Newsday she felt getting vaccinated was her only chance of survival, given the recent surge of covid19 cases and deaths.
The SWRHA hosts weekly “road trips” around its region to get people vaccinated.