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Local taxi operators being encouraged to take the jab

Local taxi operators being encouraged to take the jab
Left to Right: MEDICAL DOCTOR, Malcom Grant, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER of SVGTA, Glen Beache, INFECTIOUS DISEASE Specialist Dr Jerrol Thompson & CHIEF LABORATORY Technologist, Elliot Samuel

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LOCAL HEALTH authorities have been providing taxi drivers with information about COVID19 in a bid to influence them to be vaccination.

The Agency For Public Information (API) said in a release that last Thursday, June 24, a sensitization session was held with taxi operators at the Mike Findlay Pavilion of the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, where Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jerrol Thompson, emphasised that if the right actions are not taken, the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to continue.

“There are side effects from the pandemic in terms of a social fall out,” Dr. Thompson noted as he alluded to persons being depressed, and an increase in job losses in the Tourism sector which has been badly affected from the downturn in visitor arrivals.

Pointing out that taxi drivers are part of the ‘first point of contact’, Dr. Thompson said it is important that they safeguard themselves against the threat of Covid-19. The Infectious Disease Specialist said the vaccine is highly effective, and reiterated that tourists want to visit a country that is safe. He urged the taxi drivers to get vaccinated to provide a high level of protection for themselves and others.

Former District Medical Officer for the Southern Grenadines, and former UWI Lecturer, Vincentian, Dr. Malcolm Grant, highlighted concerns about the sensationalism associated with the Covid-19 virus, and the misinformation that is overshadowing the “evidence-based medicine” as he outlined the complications associated with Covid-19 disease which includes brain fog, early development of Alzheimer’s, excessive shortness of breath, and erectile dysfunction, among others.

Speaking on the issue of blood clots, Grant said, “the type of blood clot associated with Covid-19 is extremely rare, occurs at a rate of six per million, and is associated with low levels of platelets in the blood.”

Based on information received from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Grant said none of the deaths related to blood clots had to do with low platelet levels.

Further, on the issue that the vaccine being developed too quickly, Dr. Grant said the Corona virus is not new and the development of vaccines began since the first SARS Corona Virus was identified in 2003, and later in 2012, MERS. He noted that scientists commenced work on vaccines then, and that knowledge about the current Corona virus has existed for at least seventeen to eighteen years.

The former UWI lecturer said, “people are running from the vaccine based on propaganda,” and urged everyone to be well informed.

Identifying taxi drivers as a special group of people to him since his wife is also a taxi driver, Chief Laboratory Technologist, Elliot Samuel, explained the difference which being vaccinated makes in fighting the virus. He said once vaccinated, the body’s defense system creates a rapid response to identify and fight the virus. He said, “the vaccines were not invented for any cynical purpose” but, the vaccine gives a fighting chance in combating the pandemic adding that “technology is far better now than before.”

Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, told the taxi drivers that the country stands a better chance of returning to normalcy if they are vaccinated. Beache said: “I am fully vaccinated, my mother is 89 years old and is fully vaccinated, and there is nothing I would do to harm that woman, ” adding that “we have to get our act together.”

Beache pointed out that if this country is not on the UK’s green list by a certain time, “we will not get Virgin [Atlantic},” noting that his team has worked hard to get the airline to place SVG on its itinerary as a destination. The Tourism Authority CEO also said that cruise lines will not return unless the vaccination rate increases, and if they do return, all tours are going to be in a bubble and “taxi drivers are the one’s to suffer the most.”

The president of the SVG Taxi Drivers Association Winston “Popps” Morgan, said the presentation was fruitful and he anticipates that those in attendance were leaving with a different mindset. Morgan said it is very important to be vaccinated to get “our tourism back up and running.”