A Guyanese family living in Canada had their Christmas holiday plans quashed after they were denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) because they are vaccinated with a mixture of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
A family member who prefers to remain anonymous told the News Room that in October, her mother, her sister, her nephew and her son booked tickets on a Caribbean Airlines flight to travel to Guyana on Wednesday night.
The woman told the News Room that the flights were booked online and according to her, the only travel message at the time was to follow the protocols for the countries persons will be travelling to.
“We were going to Guyana, so we were following their protocol and we were just gonna be in transit to Trinidad,” she explained.
It should be noted that the website of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health states that people who have been vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine would be allowed entry into the country. The Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are accepted by T&T.
The country’s guidelines, however, do not mention the mixing of vaccines but local media reported that the twin-island republic is not accepting people who are vaccinated with mixed doses.
Several people, including T&T nationals, have called on the government to address this issue.
“My sister and I, we have the Pfizer and Moderna mixture and my mom has both Pfizer shots, so we were good and were ready to travel.
“We went and got the 24-hour PCR test which was fine, then the flight was Wednesday and we went to the airport and we went to the Caribbean Airlines people and they ask if we filled out a [permission form] for Trinidad, but we were not aware that we had to because they never told us anything like that,” the frustrated woman told the News Room.
She said they were told that they needed permission to enter T&T. The family then filled out the forms online to get permission to enter T&T, but were stopped short when they could not input their vaccination status.
“An error come up saying ‘invalid vaccine’ so I went up to Caribbean Airlines hostess and I told her this error keep coming up and she said: ‘Oh well sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you are not allowed in Trinidad, the government of Trinidad don’t accept that mixture’.”
The family said they were saddened that they could not travel home to Guyana for the holidays.
While the airline apologised for the inconvenience, the family was told that they can still travel to Guyana but on a non-stop flight.
But at that last minute, when the family checked, all of the direct flights were fully booked.