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Vaccinate

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Calliaqua Playing Field on March 7, 2021. (Photo: SVG Health/Facebook)

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent  (CMC) — The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government Friday said it does not have a policy of mandatory or compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but that it intends to make rules under the existing Public Health Act.

In a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister, it said that it intends to offer the choice to get vaccinated to frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, police and prison officers as well as employees at the airports and seaports, including Customs and Immigration officers

“If the employee fails and/or refuses to comply with the requirement for those specific jobs, he or she is free to choose employment elsewhere.  Such a failure/refusal may constitute misconduct,” the statement said.

The government said it was issuing the statement as it made it clear “contrary to what some misguided, ill-informed or politically-jaundiced persons have argued, there are several provisions in the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines which permit a requirement for vaccination against COVID-19 for particular jobs or jobs generally.

The statement said that other central government employees and those in public enterprises who are not “front-line” workers, who are not fully vaccinated will be required to take the PCR test every two weeks.

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“The employer (the State) will provide the first two tests free of charge; the subsequent tests will be paid for by the employee.  If for any reason a vaccinated public sector worker requires a test, for whatever reason, the test will be provided free of cost.”

But the Ralph Gonsalves administration noted that despite the non-mandatory nature of the government’s policy, it should be made clear that the Constitution, the common law, and statute law permit mandatory or compulsory vaccination in the interest of public health and general public interest, especially during a very risky pandemic or public health emergency.

“In the extant factual circumstances of the pandemic, the legal tests touching and concerning ‘reasonable requirement’, ‘reasonably justifiable in a democratic society’, inclusive of ‘proportionality’, are easily passed by the State.

“In these circumstances, the Courts have always accepted established science and facts — not conspiratorial myths — on the vaccines and have balanced any conflicting rights in favour of public health and public interest as advanced by the State as employer,” the statement said, adding that the legal exceptions to mandatory vaccination have been recognised as fact-based “medical exemptions” and “religious exemptions”.

The government also disclosed that on Wednesday, at a meeting of the leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which SVG  is a member, legal advice was tendered by the former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Denis Byron, the Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Rose-Marie Belle-Antoine.

It said that the legal advice “squares with the articulated position of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Both the common law and statute law justify the private sector employers adopting a similar stance on this matter as the government,” the statement said.

The government said that it continues to promote the necessity and desirability of vaccination as a vital tool against COVID-19 and in this regard, it is at one with the stance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the position of all 193 member-countries of the United Nations.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a sufficiency of vaccines to vaccinate the adult population (over 18-year-olds).  Available are the AstraZeneca and Sputnik vaccines.  Shortly, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will receive a grant of Pfizer vaccines from the US government,” the statement noted.

The lengthy government statement noted that a requirement for vaccination does not demand a declaration of a state of emergency under the Constitution.

“Indeed, statute law, an Act of Parliament or appropriate Rules made under an Act, suffices, so long as the Act or Rules are not unconstitutional,” the government said, reminding the population that last year, a Public Health Emergency was declared here under the Public Health Act because of the serious COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a critical context. Across the world, the Caribbean, USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc., the Law Courts have upheld vaccination mandates as valid requirements for jobs general or specific, public or private sector,” according to the statement, outlining some “relevant provisions” of the SVG Constitution.

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7 replies on “SVG gov’t says it has no mandatory vaccination policy”

  1. Oh No! They will not force anyone to get vaccinated. If you CHOOSE not to get vaccinated you are FREE, after you lose your job, to look for another job until they get around to making that job require vaccination too! Wow that is sooo nice of them! And, like in places in France and elsewhere, (probably coming to SVG) they will kindly escort you out of restaurants in the middle of your meal if you do not have proof of vaccination. So nice of them to take the time out of their day to do that! But no one, during this “great” reset is forced to get vaccinated or have your rights taken away like in many other places in the world. It is because they love us. You will always have the FREEDOM to have your rights and dignity taken away (being called irresponsible anti-vax killers) because of a virus that the CDC has recently admitted is no deadlier than the seasonal flu! You only have a 99.7% survival chance if you get the virus. If you are under the age of 75 and are not obese your chances of survival are only over 99.95%. That should make you very frightened! The Delta variant is believed to spread easier but far less deadly. For most age groups your chance of survival is only 99.999%.
    I wonder about the Marburg sickness now being mentioned. I can guess that one is brought to you by the same people that have brought us these other sicknesses.

  2. Okay, let’s say that the SVG Government “does not have a policy of mandatory or compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”, but there are mandatory requirements for holding specific jobs; similar to the mandatory qualifications specified in the posting of any job. Don’t they all fall under the jurisdiction of ‘mandatory’? The question is; is working mandatory within SVG or any place for that matter?

  3. Okay, let’s say that the SVG Government “does not have a policy of mandatory or compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”, but there are mandatory requirements for holding specific jobs; similar to the mandatory qualifications specified in the posting of any job. Don’t they all fall under the jurisdiction of ‘mandatory’❓ The question is:- Is WORKING mandatory within SVG or any place for that matter❓ We kept hearing of the “NEW NORMAL”, this is it my people; all in the name of CLIMATE CHANGE….

  4. yes we all have to die someday,but will you go on top of a building and jump off/ or infront of a speeding 18 wheeler truck to stand?Common sense is FREE.

  5. Edna. Its the dumbest statement ever made on this subject. That is a contribution you should have kept to yourself. Embarrassing.

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