Government resolute on implementing vaccine policy says PM
The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is resolute in the implementation of the vaccine policy that has been drafted, which provides the choice “for persons who are on the frontline to take the vaccine or have another job”.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made this point clear while speaking on WEFM’s ‘Issue at Hand’ programme last Sunday, where he gave a brief update on the progression of the matter.
“I am seeking to persuade everybody, but government is not a continuing university seminar. A point comes when decisions have to be taken with certain choices,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister announced last week that the final draft of the Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules were to be published by today, October 8, which outlines that, subject to exemptions, frontline workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 with at least the first does in the case of a vaccine that requires two doses; and by the period notified in writing to frontline employees by the employer, on the advice of the chief medical officer.
In the initial draft of the document, frontline workers were listed as a health care employee, a member of the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, prison staff within the meaning of the Prisons Act, Cap. 393; and an employee appointed to perform duties at an airport or seaport including a Customs Officer and Immigration Officer.
But all workers in schools, including teachers, have recently been added to this list.
While speaking on radio on Sunday, the prime minister said he had asked for all trade unions and organisations to be engaged on the matter, even though they did not submit memoranda.
This includes the SVG Teachers Union, National Workers Movement (NWM), Commercial, Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU), and also the Police Welfare Association.
He said the leadership of the NWM and CTAWU were on board and were encouraging members to take the vaccine.
Using examples from around the region, Gonsalves noted the high COVID-19 death toll in countries like Grenada and St Lucia, where a very small percentage of the population is vaccinated.
He also noted other countries like Antigua and Barbuda which have implemented strong vaccine mandates and have a higher rate of vaccination.
SVG has been experiencing a spike in positive COVID cases since the beginning of September and currently has over 1300 active cases.
As of Wednesday, October 6, the COVID-19 death toll locally was 33.
“How many times do we have to repeat? The best tool in the toolbox to fight COVID is the vaccine and more people will die if we don’t get vaccination up to 90 per cent of the population …” the prime minister said.