Letters & Opinion

COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Gets a High-Performance Rating

Image of Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

About one month ago, the Ministry of Health commenced the national vaccination programme, to fight the virus and to obtain “Herd Immunity” for St. Lucia.

From my vantage point, I have determined that a well laid out system of vaccination has been organized.

The programme began by vaccinating “Front Line” workers; then the teams proceeded to vaccinate religious and other leaders. That was followed by the elderly homes. And the Ministry has started to vaccinate the wider community.

I do not know what has happened in the various areas that the teams have gone. However, if I am to use one station as a sample, then they have been doing extremely well in the administration of the vaccination programme and is deserving of a high-performance rating.

The station I wish to refer to is the Corinth Secondary School. I went past the school at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday13th March. There was a big crowd of people already waiting to be vaccinated although the programme was officially earmarked to begin at 9:00 a.m.

I had had the first shot at the elderly home where I work so I decided to accompany my wife to the Corinth Secondary School for her first dose.

What I experienced was amazing!

As we made our way to the entrance, there were three police officers which gave

persons a sense of security as they entered the compound. As we went pass the police officers, another three persons were there to issue numbered tickets. Then there were three tents with rigorously arranged seats in a waiting area. I must point out that the seats were amazingly comfortable and accommodating. Generally, I have my doubts about sitting on plastic chairs. But those were firm and could very easily hold up a 250 pounds human.

But our sitting was short-lived because there was a registration desk specifically for seniors 65 years and older. The process went like quicksilver. My wife was given a registration card with biographical and vaccine information and was ushered to another seat in preparation to receive the vaccine.

I must point out that the certificate of COVID-19 Vaccination also indicated when her second dose of the vaccine would be administered. In her case it was 10th May 2021, and she noticed that it was her birthday. The male nurse attendant at the desk was very courteous and made her quite comfortable.

While we waited for her to be called for the vaccine, I could see about six wheelchairs in the room marked specifically for seniors 65 years and older. The team anticipated that there would be seniors with mobility problems and the wheelchairs were there if they were needed. Good for you team!

Before too long, she was called into the room for the vaccine. Thereafter, she was ushered into an observation room where she remained for a short while. And within an hour we were out of the compound.

As we left the grounds of the Corinth Secondary school, it struck me that I should have waited to take my first dose of the vaccine there to receive all the ‘perks ’that the seniors 65 years and over received at the station. The seniors were well taken care of at the Corinth Secondary school. And I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the vaccination team there for their work.

But that is not all! The public had the opportunity to receive their dose of the vaccine. I am referring to all other persons who were not seniors. There were four well-arranged and conspicuous registration desks for the public. And they came to the desks very orderly, were registered, given a certificate of registration and proceeded to receive the vaccine. They too proceeded to rooms that were designated for observation.

When they were about to leave, they  were tagged with a COVID-19 sticker and given a vaccine fact sheet for their information.

The facilities at the Corinth Secondary School provided the opportunity for the vaccination team there to offer the best in the administration of the vaccine. There was water and adequate toilet facilities in addition to adequate covering offered by the buildings.

If the Corinth Secondary School experience is an indication of what is happening in the other areas, well the general administration of the vaccine by the Ministry of Health has to get a high-performance rating.

I have learnt that the vaccination team has halted general vaccination to focus their attention on persons who are homebound because of age and immobility. Indeed, no one is left behind!

I too, would like to join in congratulating our people for tuning up at the vaccination stations for the vaccine. At one stage I was very fearful about them showing up for the vaccine based on the amount of misinformation circulating on social media and among the people themselves.

Earlier, I expressed my concern about inadequate information on the positives of taking the vaccine. I mean the level of education provided to the public. However, things have changed and quite a bit of information which would encourage people to take the vaccine has been provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Indeed, the COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet provides a lot of pertinent and simplified information.

Now about 40% of our people can read or write. And I expected to hear much of that information to be given in Patwa or creole. We can do it! And it’s not too late.

I am firm in my belief that once sufficient vaccines become available, St. Lucia will receive ‘herd immunity’ in a blink.

 As I write, we are on the right track in achieving that goal.

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