People in Seychelles over the age of 60 started getting their first dose of the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, as the health ministry rolled out the vaccination campaign for the most vulnerable age group.
Seychelles started its vaccination programme on January 10, with the Sinopharm vaccine, which can be administered to people between 18 and 60 years. The most vulnerable age group — those aged 60 and above — were hence unable to be vaccinated.
Following a donation from the Indian government on January 22 of 50,000 doses of Covishield vaccine – known as Oxford-AstraZeneca in the UK, this older group is now able to get vaccinated.
At the Grand Anse Mahe vaccination centre at the district’s administration office towards late Tuesday morning about 100 mostly older citizens waited in a line that was managed by a handful of police officers. Some 500 people are expected to get vaccinated at this facility from the western Mahe districts of Grand Anse and Port Glaud.
Around 100 mostly older citizens waited in a line late Tuesday morning. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The team leader at the vaccination centre, Jeanne Legaie, told SNA that she and her team are trying to cope with the number of people as best they can.
“Normally, they were supposed to wait for a bus to bring them to the centre so that they wouldn’t be too crowded at the centre, however they didn’t do this and came all together. We communicated that there would be a bus service that would pick them up from their homes to bring them here. Some told us that they were not aware of this, others just came in the private vehicles, public bus or paid someone to bring them here,” said Legaie.
She outlined that this age group loves getting things done early morning and “some did not understand that even if they came early in the morning, there are procedures to be followed and that they will not be vaccinated as soon as they get here.”
This was a complaint that came from one resident. Claude Rath told SNA that he expected to come to the facility, get vaccinated, and go straight home.
“It is not normal to say they will start at a given time and then not do so. The vaccine got here at about 9.30 am and I was here since 8.30 am. Secondly, people who arrived after me are getting the vaccine before me. I think that is not fair and the process needs to be better coordinated,” added the upset Rath.
The team leader at the vaccination centre, Jeanne Legaie, said that even if they came early in the morning, there are procedures to be followed. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Other elderlies told SNA they are relieved to be getting vaccinated as they were unable to do so with the first batch of vaccine – Sinopharm – that UAE donated to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“I was happy to hear that the country had received a vaccine that can be administered to people over 60. I feel relieved to be able to receive the vaccine today since as I have been waiting for it,” said Marie Rouillon.
Betram Senaratne, who had already been vaccinated and was waiting for his 30-minute observation period to end, said that he is “pleased we were given the opportunity to have it early because we are the most vulnerable group of the population.”
“I feel quite normal, I am not feeling any effects so far and it has been 15 minutes since I got vaccinated,” Senaratne added.
The team leader at the facility said that no reaction to the vaccine has been observed so far among the around 100 people who have received their first dose of Covishield.
With the facility operating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Legaie said that “if people who are currently standing in line have been registered, they will be vaccinated even after the closing hour, however, if a person arrives at the centre after 5 p.m., we will have to turn the person back.”
She urged the population to listen carefully to announcements about which target group will be vaccinated at a given date and location to avoid disappointments.