On the first Monday since the vaccination of people aged over 45 started, at the vaccination center in the municipality of Oeiras began with a queue of thousands of people.
"It was already expected that this would happen this week, given the number of vaccines that we are going to give, but we don’t want people to be in queues for so long and we will try to improve the process," said Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo, who coordinates the task force responsible for the vaccination process.
On Saturday, he explained that Portugal would accelerate the pace of vaccination due to the spread of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, predicting that it will be possible to vaccinate around 850,000 people per week.
An expected consequence of this measure, as he admitted yesterday, are the long queues at the vaccination centers, like the one he witnessed at the Carlos Queiroz Pavilion, where an average of two thousand people are vaccinated daily.
At the Oeiras vaccination center, for example, there are two time slots – between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm and between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm – but due to ignorance, some people went to the pavilion in the morning.
“I suggest people, without appointment, to come after 5:00 pm”, said Gouveia e Melo, explaining that it is mainly at the end of the day that there is greater availability for people without an appointment.
This was also the recommendation that was being given to those who arrived at that vaccination center before the available time, as witnessed by Lusa, in order to try not to extend an already long wait.
In the early afternoon, around 1:30 pm, thousands of people formed a queue that went around the entire sports complex, and those who had already been waiting for hours met those who had just arrived, in a kind of circle that did not end and continued to grow wherever it could.
Mariana Gonçalves was one of the people who had been waiting for her turn for hours, despite having an appointment.
“I've been waiting since 11:30 am”, she told Lusa, saying that the day before she had accompanied her husband to his vaccination and the scenario was completely different. “I never expected it to be like this,” she admitted.
A few meters back, Ana Gil was also waiting her turn, but she said that despite the size of the queue, “it's not as scary as it looks” and the queue is moving at a good pace.
At that time, the team from the vaccination center had already placed chairs along the entire route in order to facilitate the wait and distributed water to people who continued to arrive.