Public servants a no-show at SAPA vaxx site

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this January 3 file photo, public servants registered to be vaccinated at the vaccination site at Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), San Fernando.When Newsday visited the site on Thursday there were no more than five public servants in line to be vaccinated – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

As the Prime Minister’s deadline of January 15 for all public servants to be vaccinated draws close, they were a no-show at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) in San Fernando on Thursday.

When Newsday visited the site after 9 am, there were no more than five public servants using the two special lines set up on Monday for them to get vaccinated.

One official told Newsday it was a slow day and Wednesday had had a slightly higher turnout.

The lines were announced by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on December 29 to help make the vaccination process easier.

Azard Hosein, one of the few public servants at the site, told Newsday people should listen to their conscience when deciding to get vaccinated.

Hosein added, “I just going and take it, because it is a safety precaution, but it’s up to people if they want to take it. They should make sure they feel as though it’s the right thing to do.”

Thursday’s lukewarm response by public servants was similar to the scenes observed when Newsday visited SAPA on Monday, the day the lines were set up. When Newsday visited the site then at 9.15 am, there were fewer than ten people in the lines.

On December 18, the PM announced that all public servants and employees at state agencies will be required to be vaccinated by January 15 or they will be furloughed without pay.

At a press conference on December 22, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said furloughing does not mean being sent on indefinite unpaid leave. He warned that after a defined period, public servants could be fired if they refuse to be vaccinated without medical exemption.

Apart from public servants, there was a trickle of other people visiting SAPA for various vaccines.

Parents Vashti and Bheesham Jaglal made it a priority to get their 12-year-old son Visham vaccinated.

Vashti told Newsday, “He’ll have to go out to school soon to write SEA, and it’s wise and safer to have him vaccinated to be out in the public.”

Visham said he felt good getting vaccinated and would feel safer.

Former Newsday reporter Sasha Harrinanan and her aunt Carmen Beharry told Newsday they came to get their booster jabs for extra protection.

Harrinanan added, “My aunt and I firmly believe in as much protection as possible from covid, especially the omicron variant, so we are here for our booster shot.

“I have underlying conditions and she (my aunt) does as well, so we don’t have to have that risk. The more protection the better, and we encourage everybody to talk to your doctor and figure out which vaccine is best for you.”