When the Ministry of Health rolled out its vaccination appointment system for eligible people in April, a guide on how to apply was posted on its website and on all its social media platforms.
But it seems that when an influx of people started to follow the instructions it caused a system overload, as many people said after several attempts the only response they got was a generic one.
“I know they said they will respond in 48 hours great, they did not, days had gone by, and I was wondering will I ever get a reply,” Ree Anne Alexander said yesterday.
The teacher told Guardian Media that in the message to the Northwest Regional Health Authority, she included her medical conditions and after several attempts and automatic responses, the furthest she got was a message that read, “Seen.”
“It led me, a few days after that, to try different numbers…it’s been a month now,” she said.
Clerical Officer at the National Insurance Board, Wesley Williams, faced the same uncertainty, but from the Southwest Regional Health Authority. He said while he does not have any non-communicable diseases, he applied because of his job.
“Also, being the only member of my household that is out and about being an essential worker, I would like to protect myself as well as extend that protection at home,” he said.
On social media, several others said they were still waiting a response.
King-Anubis Marcano said, “I fed up WhatsApp and call, cause I ain’t getting replies.”
While Sohan Badall and Shamla Maharaj said they sent several messages daily but with no luck. While they were able to reach the automatic reply stage, some members of the older population were not.
Ismail , 73, had to ask his daughter to book an appointment via WhatsApp for him and his vulnerable 71-year-old wife. They still have not received a response.
“No, no, I don’t have that service on my phone, I just have an ordinary phone. I believe most of the elderly population don’t have phone with this kind of service and they should have made it easier for the elderly people and make more effort to get the vaccine without going through WhatsApp and these kind of thing,” Mankhan said.
Citizens may not have to worry about those requests again, as the ministry has implemented a walk-in system at health centres. But this will be for certain categories at a time. First up are healthcare workers and people over 60 or under 60 with NCDs.
The number of vaccinations per day will be based on the capacity at the various facilities.