Parents with their youngsters 12-18 years brave the rainy weather to get vaccinated against COVID-19, at MIC Pleasantville Technology Centre in Pleasantville, on Wednesday. (Image: RISHI RAGOONATH)

Scores of children, accompanied by their parents, showed up at the Pfizer vaccination site at the MIC Pleasantville Technology Centre at Pleasantville, today, sheltering from the rain under their umbrellas as they lined up outside the facility, waiting their turn. 

Today is the first day of the vaccination drive spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years. The vaccines are being offered at 14 sites across the country via an appointment system. Only one parent or guardian is allowed to accompany their child.

At the Pleasantville site, there is a police presence ensuring compliance with the public health regulations.

Michelle Parson’s children Kai-ann, Mickel and Mickyle were among the first to be vaccinated.

“I considered it very important to bring my children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 virus,” said Parson. 

Presentation College student, Victor Baboolal, felt accomplished having received his first jab of the Pfizer vaccine. He said he got up as early as 4 am and was “not really scared” about getting vaccinated.

“It did not hurt at all, it just felt like a little ants bite,” he said.

Another parent, Stacy Ryan, got to the facility around 6:30 am with her son.  However, she complained that there was no area to shelter from the rain.

“When we got there, they had a long line. It was wrapping around the facility to the outside, but the rain came down very heavy and there was absolutely no accommodation for the persons standing in the rain. It was even flooding, she told Guardian Media.

She added: “The only issue we had would have been having to stand in the rain for 45 minutes to an hour before being able to access the facility. Outside of that, when you got in the process was pretty smooth. The staff, they were very friendly.” 

Stacy Ryan suggested that they put in place a holding bay so that people will not be impacted by the severe weather conditions. She also suggested that the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) may have been a more suitable site for the vaccination drive.

“The parking, it would have been able to accommodate.  The traffic congestion on the outside this morning was absolutely horrible, and it (SAPA) has more accommodation to see persons. They have theatres, holding bay, so that persons will not be outside standing in the rain. So, I understand trying to get the process effected, but this was not the wisest choice for a vaccination centre because as you can see, parents are coming out in numbers to get their children vaccinated,” she said.

Ryan said there should have been an additional site in south because there is only one site in San Fernando and another in La Brea.

“I do think adding one more facility in San Fernando area would actually help the process,” she added.

Another parent, Adrian Agard of Corinth Hills, Ste Madeleine, said he was happy that his daughter was vaccinated and is ensuring that his entire family is protected against the COVID-19 virus.

He said when the rain came, they waited in their car until it eased up.

Agard also reported that the vaccination site staff was professional and they experienced no bumps or hiccups.