A health official places a public servants sign on a tent at the vaccination site at Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), San Fernando. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Even though Shivana Rampersad was at the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) in San Fernando on Monday to get vaccinated, she had little enthusiasm about being there.
Instead, Rampersad, a public servant, said if she did not submit her immunisation card to her office payroll department, she would not get paid.
Rampersad told Newsday, “I’m here to get it to go to work, because if I don’t get it (the vaccine), I wouldn’t get paid. The vaccination card is going to payroll, and if I don’t send it, I’m not getting paid.”
On December 18, the Prime Minister announced that all public servants and employees at state agencies, including National Security, will be required to be vaccinated by January 15 or stay home without pay.
On Monday, SAPA started dedicating two lines to public servants like Rampersad to get their jabs. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced the special lines on December 29 and said they were intended to make the vaccination process easier for public servants.
A regristration personnel assist citizens in the public servants line at the vaccination site at Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), San Fernando. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Apart from this, Deyalsingh said the Government Campus Plaza in Port of Spain has been set up as a vaccination site solely for public servants.
When Newsday visited SAPA around 9.15am on Monday, there were fewer than ten public servants, including Rampersad, using the lines. One official told Newsday there had been a stream of public servants when the site opened its doors at 8am, but the numbers weren’t sustained.
Another public servant, Princes Town resident Tyrese Modeste, shared Rampersad’s muted enthusiasm, but didn’t feel he had been compelled to take the shot.
Modeste added, “Me taking it was based upon my personal conviction but I don’t feel like I was forced to take it.”
While there were few public servants, there was a stream of other people visiting SAPA to get various vaccines.
Nurse Tenika Serrette accompanied her 15-year-old son Kazim Serrette to get his first Pfizer injection.
A security guard of the PRD Security Services Limited stand in the public servants line at the vaccination site at Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), San Fernando Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
She told Newsday, “He wanted to come out and get it done, because he wanted to feel a little safer going back out to physical school.
“I will tell other parents that it is their personal choice, but if the child wants to get vaccinated, the parent should not stop them from doing it.”