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Helen Cassano,right, shows the spot where she plans to put a mattress to sleep on in front the Freeport Health Centre.

Elderly and middle aged people wishing to take the COVID-19 vaccine had a hard time getting selected at public health facilities in central Trinidad yesterday.

Pensioners complained that the health centres were using a number system and only taking around 100 people a day

Helen Cassano, 78, said she recently had open heart surgery and was never called to take the vaccine.

Cassano, a resident of Carlsen Field, said the process was too much stress for her and she intended to put a mattress in front of the gates of the Freeport Health Centre and spend the night in order to get in the lines.

She said, “When you WhatsApp them nobody answers. So I have to put a mattress there to sleep in order to get up early to get a number.”

Other elderly people walked with chairs while others sat on existing infrastructure such as water lines and concrete culverts until their number was called.

One woman, who walked with a chair lamented: “I saw on the news people brought their own chairs yesterday (Wednesday) and this was a good idea, because everything at the health centre operates in a flip-flop fashion.Rain or sun we have to wait here and suffer.”

At Couva, the line started shortly after 5 am.

People complained that the elderly were being treated with scant courtesy.

Doolarchan Gopaul, 67, said the process has been tough on him.

“I feel I might dead in this line if I catch COVID. I was here yesterday and I am here today again. This thing is ridiculous, they tell you to come for the vaccine because you are old and when you here, you have to end up jostling for a number.

Look my feet paining, I can’t do this thing every day,” Gopaul said.

At the UTT Campus, in Chaguanas, elderly people were being allowed to enter and get their vaccination without any appointments. Those taking the vaccine at UTT said the process was smooth.

Meanwhile, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) Richie Sookhai said his organisation has entered into talks with the T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) and the Supermarkets Association of T&T (SATT) to use their infrastructure to vaccinate Chamber members and their staff.

Sookhai said, “We are looking to work with the Ministry of Health to get at least 2000 vaccines. We have seen the private-public partnership working well and smoothly with the TTMA and the SATT and it’s more successful and orderly. We at the CCIC want to ensure that vaccinations get off the ground to flatten the curve and we can all return to a sense of normalcy in the shortest time possible. Compared to the public health centres these operations by the TTMA and SATT are vaccinating more people through their process.”