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Hours after they advised that no appointment system was needed for the vaccination of children between the ages of 12 to 18 years – the Ministry of Education (MoE) faced a barrage of public criticisms for the decision which many believe is a recipe for disaster.

Comments posted to the ministry’s Facebook page under the release which advised of the process scheduled to begin tomorrow – as well as of the vaccine locations – challenged the authorities to say why more than one location was not selected in the south-western district

Confirming the vaccination of children between 12 and older would begin tomorrow, the Ministry of Health (MoH), in collaboration with the MoE,said arrangements for the administration of the Pfizer vaccine would commence from tomorrow and continue throughout the weekend.

Officials said no appointments were necessary as it is being done on a walk-in basis from 8 am to 3 pm daily, at 14 sites in Trinidad.

Expressing the same views as some of the parents who are anticipating long lines and chaos relating to the first come, first served roll-out – some education stakeholders questioned, “What criteria was used to select the vaccine locations?”

Pointing out that in the South Western district, there are close to 80 primary schools, each with a post-SEA class and they all have to go to the Pleasantville Campus as this is the closest location for many – one official said, “With no appointment needed…don’t you expect to see long lines?”

The official said, “This is the same thing that happened several months ago when they called for the elderly persons to come out and be vaccinated. There were long lines and people waiting in the rain…we can just hope this will not be the case this time around.”

Claiming that vaccination in schools is not a new thing, another official said permission was granted several months ago for nurses to enter primary schools to conduct screening of students.

In a memo dated March 17, acting Chief Education Officer Lisa Henry-David said the Chief Medical Officer had given permission for the resumption of school health screening activities and for health officers to use school compounds to engage in such activities.

The education stakeholder added “This same process could have been employed now where students can come to the school and get their vaccine, accompanied by their parent and it would eliminate long lines and delays. The MoE could have left it for those outside the school system to go to the designated locations to receive their vaccines and so avoid any crowds and gatherings from occurring. I think this is a bad, bad idea.”

One school principal from a primary school in south said many of his parents had expressed greater fears after learning of the increase in COVID-19 paediatric cases – and more so as it had been reported in the south-western district.

He said, “I expect this to be just like the no-appointment fiasco with the older people from months ago. It’s as if they are not learning anything. They could have gone from school to school.”

The online audience also expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of vaccine sites in south west Trinidad.

Cassie Estick posted, “Very very poor, at least it could have a site in Penal, so Siparia and persons coming from Erin have to go Pleasantville, you all could do better than that.”

Ry Ramgolam asked, “Why one site for the whole of south west .. ppl from Cedros have to come all the way to Pleasantville .. San Fernando . Point Fortin. Penal. Siparia . Etc. Very poor…..”

Alisha Rasool suggested, “they could have used Naparima Bowl and Brian Lara Stadium for South.”

Kay Doll chimed in, “This is great and a timely roll out so the children can have their first shot before school reopens.

Annisha Ali-Beharry said, “No appointment system spells disaster. We do not learn from our past mistakes.”

And Natasha Persad questioned, “Nothing in place for children with “special needs”? Children with autism and other health problems may not be able to wait for a very long time.”

Cheryl Burnette stated: “Alyuh really good, you all could of put a site in Siparia or Penal people from deep South have to go La Brea or Pleasantville that’s unfair.

In a phone interview, the parent of two eligible teenagers aged 15 and 13 shared, “I will definitely be doing more research with this as there are circulating reports that the vaccine identified for use on the kids, is having negative effects. I am hoping for anything to get the schools reopened and to have the kids back out to physical schools but it must be one that is even more trusted and safer than the vaccines being offered to the adults.”

With his two children attending the same prestige school in north Trinidad, the father who himself has been vaccinated, added, “I will not be able to live with myself if I don’t do this.”

In a release yesterday, parents/guardians were informed that all citizens and/or residents between the ages of 12-18 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine regardless of whether they are registered at schools or not.

For those intending to access the vaccine, eligible persons can walk into any of the vaccination sites listed below as no appointment is necessary.

However, minors must be accompanied by ONE parent/guardian only; and parents/guardians must walk with a form of Identification as well as the birth certificate of the child/ward and proof of relationship to child (guardians only).