By 10.13 a.m. ten persons had received their first Covid-19 vaccination at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, which was used as a mass vaccination site Tuesday, August 10.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., members of the public could walk in and get immunised. Nurse Jahan Bishop, the supervisor at the site said the Cathedral was an ideal space, “very nice and comfortable” for physical distancing. She commended the church members who were present helping.
Inside the Cathedral there were two tables set up for registration, and two “vaccination areas” each manned by two persons, one of whom was a nurse. Dr Kelly-Ann John was seated in the south transept for the ten-minute post-vaccination observation. Depending on any adverse symptoms displayed, the time was extended.
Lynette Audain, 77 years, was among the eight persons vaccinated. She admits to “wavering” before deciding. The Belmont resident was glad she came. “From the time they called me to my Cathedral where I worship devotedly, I decided to come and I also encouraged my sister to come.”
She explained her hesitation was related to family members who were against the vaccine based on what they saw online. Audin who will be 78 this year, was not fazed by talk that the vaccine could cause death in three years. “I know that I lived/living a good life so if He [God] ready for me take me.” Audin said she had younger nieces and nephews whom she wanted to protect and she also interacted with young persons as a member of the Girl Guides Association of Trinidad and Tobago. She wished to again see and interact with the children face-to-face.
Present to observe proceedings and assist with registration was Fr Simon Peter Ango and Fr Clifford Mainooh CSSp. Fr Ango said, “I feel good the church is encouraging people, that we open our door to the people to come and get vaccinated. I think it is very important; it is a good example for us as Church to assist.” He added it was about coming together to fight the virus.
Fr Ango was vaccinated two months ago. He has urged people to get vaccinated. He said a lot of people were depending on what they saw on social media—YouTube but they were unaware that the individuals posting videos on YouTube were paid for high numbers of views, so this encouraged them to create more content. This was causing fear. Fr Ango noted that sick persons in the hospital want to get well and hardly challenged the medication they were receiving. He said through vaccination, there can be a return to “normal way of life”.
The Catholic News learned that there were calls to the Cathedral office about the vaccination drive and one of the first questions asked was which vaccine was being dispensed. There has been keen interest in getting the AstraZenca vaccine. The Sinopharm was being distributed at the Cathedral.
At a media briefing July 31, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced places of worship would be used as vaccination sites. He said, “people like to feel comfortable in their surrounding so many churches, mosques, mandirs have been identified in each of the RHAs (Regional Health Authorities)”.
The Health Ministry had set a target of 188,900 people inoculated with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 31. This target was met with 189,273. A release from the Health Ministry stated up to 4 p.m. Monday August 9, 418,721 persons had received one dose and 230,454 were fully vaccinated. From March 12 to present, 40,361 Covid positive cases were recorded and 1,139 deaths.