So far 14,526 people have taken COVID-19 vaccines in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, way below the 50,000 or so jabs the government had hoped to administer by now.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache said on NBC Radio, on Monday, that health officials continue to offer vaccines at all clinics across the country.
“The polyclinics are open 24/7 and we encourage persons to get vaccinated but our major challenge right now is the control of COVID within the shelters and we know persons move from the shelters into the communities and so it is basically the control, the containment of COVID in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
So far, 33 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among persons in emergency shelters, including two cases in private homes being used as shelters.
The other cases are at government-run shelters in Stubbs and Biabou, which has been placed on lockdown in an effort to contain the spread.
The CMO urged people to take the jab, saying that while they might say that they are young and strong and the vaccine does not matter, they can infect their loved ones.
“We have instances where persons took this home; you’re taking it back into your home. You are volunteering in a shelter and you are going back into your home where you might have vulnerable persons,” Keizer-Beache said.
“And so we’re not just asking for the shelterees, the persons who are in the shelters, we are asking for those who … volunteer, for your own protection and the long term effects.
“We really need to think about our health and our wellness not just in this instance. The little discomfort, but it’s just a test and the vaccination, we would like that too, but the critical thing right now to pick up is the testing,” she said.
Speaking on the same programme, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged people “very strongly” to take the test, saying that since September, he has taken 16 tests in SVG and in the United States.
He said he has been to the United States twice and had to take a test in order to go to the hospital there to visit his wife, who had undergone spinal surgery.
“I’m just advising people very strongly, take the test. It’s a simple test. A swab is put up in your nose and that is all what it is. It is very, very simple. And the vaccination is also a very simple one. So I just want to indicate to people that it is important that you do it,” the prime minister said.
He noted that as the CMO has indicated, people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms such as a cough, cold, or chills, could be positive and infect their loved ones.
“And you can infect those in your family and around who have pre-existing conditions like hypertension and diabetes and the like,” he said.
“Please, I am begging you, I am pleading with you, don’t listen to a lot of foolish talk about not taking the test and not taking the vaccine.”
Gonsalves said that if SVG is “to get back to normalcy and the economy is to have an uptick, we have to get back, and for jobs, you have to get back; you have to do the test and you have to take also the vaccine, because this is an on-going problem and it is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.
“How are you, for instance, going to be working at a hotel where people come there, you think they want to be served by somebody who is not vaccinated? You think they want the airport and immigration people to check them in or check them out if they are not vaccinated?
“You think parents want their children to be taught by teachers who are not vaccinated or even tested? I am urging … we have enough problems so that we do not inflict others on ourselves. On this matter let us be responsible,” the prime minister said.