The public vaccination drive continued today, March 2, targetting residents aged over 65 years; but the response was overwhelming and many residents are unhappy with the process.
A press release from the Ministry of Health advised that today and tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, “have been designated exclusively for elderly persons to get vaccinated.”
Accordingly, “the two exclusive vaccination days for the elderly are applicable at all four public vaccination sites: the Villa Polyclinic, the Glanvilles Polyclinic, the Multipurpose Cultural and Exhibition Centre, and the Sir Novelle Richards Academy,” the statement said.
However, this morning, one person told REAL News that the vaccines were late in arriving at the Glanvilles site, where scores of seniors were already waiting, and that only two nurses and two volunteers were present.
Another senior called our News Room to report that he arrived there at 9:40 a.m. and was turned back at the gate. This was because there were already “too many people inside,” a security officer reportedly told him.
He describes the management of the process as “totally out of control.”
The man is also asking how the four locations were chosen, since they do not properly cover the geography of the island. He notes that elderly persons from the South, for instance, have not been taken into account.
“You’re telling me that old people from Urlings, Johnsons Points, and all the way out Old Road must come to St. John’s for a vaccination?” he asks. “Wouldn’t it have been better to utilize the community clinics and have the elderly vaccinated closer to where they live?”
The man, a resident of St. Peter parish, also disagrees with the venues selected, since, he says, “they all have political associations.” At a time like this, when parties are being asked to put politics aside, he is asking why “Robin clinic, Gaston clinic, and Gaston school” were chosen as vaccination centres.
A marketing professional tells REAL News that the selection of the venues reflects a marketing strategy known as an “evoked set,” which has to do with branding and consumer choices.
Meanwhile even though officials said that a government-issued photo ID must be presented, a woman tells REAL News that she was not asked to show ID during her trip to the Villa Polyclinic on Monday.
She says the process began at about 11 a.m., and not at the scheduled 10 a.m. start, but she is hoping that things will be managed much better going forward.
The four sites are scheduled to resume catering to the general public on Thursday, March 4, and everyone desirous of getting vaccinated “will get an opportunity to do so,” officials say. This includes elderly persons who were not able to take advantage of their designated days.
Regarding government workers, job-site vaccinations were to continue today, with the Port Authority staff set to receive their first shots.
They will be followed on Wednesday, March 3, by employees of the National Solid Waste Management Authority. On Thursday, March 4, the staff of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority and the Medical Benefits Scheme will take the jab.