A group of men wait outside the Ste Madeleine Health Centre to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, last Thursday. (Image: RISHI RAGOONATH)
Anna-Lisa Paul

Elderly people aged 65 years and over, who are to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, will today be given ‘VIP treatment’ as the Triple E System—the Elderly Express Experience—is rolled out.

Simultaneously, a Mobile Elderly Express Experience will also be extended to senior citizens in old-aged homes and to shut-ins who are unable to visit community health centres that are designated vaccination sites.

The VIP programme will feature a speedy screening process followed by vaccination, whilst ensuring the patients’ comfort and security throughout.

Hinging this latest model on tweaks made to the initial appointment system that was introduced months ago, officials at the regional health authorities yesterday told Guardian Media they will no longer be using the days-old alphabet system implemented just last week.

Instead, those selected to be vaccinated today were chosen from among people registered at chronic disease clinics and also those primary care patients pulled from hospitals.

North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) CEO Davlin Thomas was excited to welcome people.

“This is all about ensuring their needs are met respectfully and in a timely manner, while they are under our care.”

Saying old-aged homes and the shut-ins were selected by the district medical officials, Thomas said the targeted approach was to ensure this vulnerable subset of the population received the care and attention they deserve.

Asked how many first-dose vaccines will be administered or if this number will be restricted to the 50, as seen last week, he said, “It depends on the health centre. Each health centre will have a different amount based on their capacity.”

Pressed on how the NCRHA intends to conduct the second-dose vaccine rollout without any missteps, Thomas said this aspect was being done at designated sites away from health centres to avoid congregations.

He explained that there were already established protocols in place and citizens receiving their second shots should experience no problems when they present their NCRHA Immunisation Card.

Thomas acknowledged they had experienced two bad days, as hundreds descended on health centres last Wednesday and Thursday expecting to be vaccinated as a first-come/first-served system was introduced, followed by the alphabetical order selection system.

Meanwhile, Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) CEO Ronald Tsoi-a-Fatt said the exact same systems will be rolled out in his jurisdiction.

Both men said among the patients today will be those who would have made appointments before but had not yet received their vaccines.