When the Ministry of Health rolled out its vaccination appointment system for eligible people in April, a guide on how to apply was posted on its website and on all its social media platforms.
But it seems that when an influx of people started to follow the instructions, it caused a system overload as many people said after several attempts the only response they got, was a generic one.
“I know they said they will respond in 48 hours great, they did not days had gone by, and I was wondering will I ever get a reply,” Ree Anne Alexander said.
The teacher told Guardian Media that in the message to the Northwest Regional Health Authority she included her medical conditions and after several attempts and automatic responses the furthest she got was a message that read, “seen.”
“It led me a few days after that to try different numbers…it’s been a month now,” she said.
Clerical Officer at the National Insurance Board Wesley Williams faced the same uncertainty but from the Southwest Regional Health Authority. He said while he does not have any non-communicable diseases, he applied because of his job.
“Also being the only member of my household that is out and about being an essential worker I would like to protect myself as well as extend that protection at home,” he said.
On social media, several others said they were still waiting for a response.
King-Anubis Marcano said, “I fed up WhatsApp and call cause I ain’t getting replies.”
While Sohan Badall and Shamla Maharaj said they have sent several messages daily but with no luck.
But while they were able to reach the automatic reply stage, some members of the older population were not. Like 73-year-old Ismail Mankhan who had to ask his daughter to book an appointment via WhatsApp for him and his vulnerable 71-year-old wife. They still have not received a response.
“No, no I don’t have that service on my phone I just have an ordinary phone, I believe most of the elderly population don’t have phone with this kind of service and they should have made it easier for the elderly people and make more effort to get the vaccine without going through WhatsApp and these kind of thing,” he expressed.
But they may not have to worry about those requests again as the Ministry of Health has implemented a walk-in system at health centres. But for certain categories at a time, first are healthcare workers, people over 60 or under 60 with NCDs.
The number of vaccinations per day will be based on the capacity at the various facilities.