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Doctors named by Cabinet to certify COVID-19 medical exemptions

Doctors named by Cabinet to certify COVID-19 medical exemptions

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Twelve medical practitioners registered to work in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have been approved by Cabinet to provide certification that COVID-19 vaccination for certain individuals is not advisable on medical grounds.

 The practitioners are Registrars Dr Franklyn James, Dr Francis Murray, Dr Ama Martin; District Medical Officers Dr Alisha Bonadie, Dr Keneil Bullock, Dr Jashika Williams, Dr Yamiry Lugo, Dr Natty Garaygay, Dr Kishron Richards; Family Physicians Dr Malcolm Grant and Dr Conrad Nedd and Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist Dr Daniel Garraway.

 These doctors have been approved on the recommendation of the Medical Officer of Health in keeping with the Amendment to the Public Health Act which was passed in the House of Assembly in the wee hours of August 6, 2021.

 November 19, 2021 is the deadline for certain categories of public sector workers to prove that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, failing which they will not be allowed to enter their respective workplaces, and will be treated as being absent from duty without leave. Employees may be granted exemption from vaccination on medical or religious grounds only. 

A memo dated October 28, 2021 from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security to Heads of Departments in the Government service said employees seeking medical exemption from being immunized against COVID-19 by vaccination with any of the COVID-19 vaccines “should present themselves to any of the listed registered medical practitioners and request that an assessment be conducted and a certificate (medical report) prepared according to the best medical judgement of the practitioner…” 

Any costs or fees associated with such assessment shall be borne by the applicant making the request. 

The employee should then submit the report to the Chief Personnel Officer, through their Head of Department. The application may be referred to the Chief Medical Officer for review and recommendation advised by Obstetrician/ Gynaecologist Dr Timothy Providence, Internist Dr D Jayarangaiah and Hematologist Dr I Ponce.

 The October 28 memo listed “an allergy to any of the components in all of the COVID-19 vaccines available for use in SVG” and “coagulopathies diagnosed by an Internist or Hematologist” as the only two medical conditions that may exempt an employee from the requirement for vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine.

 When the amendment to the Public Health Act was passed, Minister of Health St Clair Prince said specific doctors would be approved in order to “prevent certificate peddling and we know the social realities of St Vincent and the Grenadines; that somebody who doesn’t want to take a vaccine or to be tested goes to a medical practitioner somewhere and says, ‘Listen, I need a certificate to say that I have a problem and I ought not to take that particular vaccine’. It would not be so easy because it would be a panel of doctors who would look over that, after the Medical Officer of Health has seen it,” Prince said in Parliament.

He said it is the government’s job to protect the well-being of the country.