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COVID 19 vaccine
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Blood clots seen in people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine are not linked to the jab, the chief medical officer says.

Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache told a Ministry of Health Press conference this week that health care officials are on the lookout for clots linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is being administered locally.

“And so far, even though we have had instances where people have had clots, we have determined through further investigation in terms of the blood picture that those clots were not typical of those associated with AstraZeneca,” Keizer-Beache said.

“Neither of these persons had the blood pictures. For example, the low platelet count and the other features typical of clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.

She was speaking at a press conference in which health officials, again, urged people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to get vaccinated against the virus, which has claimed 12 lives in SVG.

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Minister of Health, St. Clair Prince told the press conference that there has been an increase in COVID-19 deaths and complications in the country, decreasing compliance with mask use, an alarming trend of mass gatherings, and low vaccine uptake.

“And this is taking place while we are having all of this happening and disinformation — reports of deaths due to vaccines in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are absolutely incorrect. 

“No person, there is absolutely no evidence that anybody has died from vaccines here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He said that the vaccination drive, which began on Feb. 14, continues and AstraZeneca vaccines are available at any of the active clinics or health centres.

He noted that SVG received its second shipment, 21,600 doses, from COVAX on May 25, and the government is working to secure additional doses as well as additional doses of the Sputnik-V.

So far, 20,324 vaccines have been administered in SVG, 13,902 being first doses, and 6,432 second doses.

Some 16,167 people in SVG have been fully vaccinated, the minister told the press conference, adding that the ministry’s surveillance team is working on providing the disaggregated data.

“As we continue to work our way up to 70% immunity, I take this opportunity to encourage my fellow Vincentians to get vaccinated. This gives our bodies the internal protection to reduce transmission and significantly reduce severity, which could result in hospitalisation or death,” he said.  

“I’d like to reiterate what we are thinking about COVID and how we are responding. We, in the Ministry of Health, and indeed the government, have the responsibility to remind you that COVID-19 is still a very real and dangerous disease. Million have died, millions more have been hospitalised around the world. This, of course, has put considerable pressure on the various health systems around the world, and, of course, the various economies.”

The health minister said there are people in SVG “who feel that the government has some sinister agenda to vaccinate Vincentians.

“The only agenda we have is the continued good health and social and economic well-being of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I appeal to all to ignore the negative noises and educate yourself about COVID-19 and vaccinations. See what’s happening around the world. Read for yourselves.”

Prince continued:

“There are people who are anti-vaxxers for all kinds of reasons, whether it is religious, political or just plain ignorance. You need to look at it yourself and see what you need to do. Your best defence against this scourge is an adherence to the protocols, washing and sanitising of hands, wearing of face coverings, avoidance of crowds, and, above all, get vaccinated. Vaccines are available, they are accessible, they are free and they are safe. We will continue to fight this battle in the interest of the safety of all Vincentians.”

Since March 2020, SVG has 2,068 cases of COVID-19 as of June  4. Of those cases, 1,845 have recovered, and 211 remain active.