The Ministry of Health, to a large extent, relies on “good faith” that organisers of, and attendees at “vaccinated-only event” follow the terms under which the event was approved.
At an event for vaccinated people only, all organisers, vendors and patrons at the events are vaccinated against COVID-19.
A number of these events are expected to take place this weekend, as St. Vincent and the Grenadines is granted next Monday and Tuesday as public holidays, as replacement for the Carnival holidays.
At a press conference on Tuesday, iWitness News asked the Ministry of Health about the assurance that it would give to the public that the conditions under which the events are approved would actually be met at the event.
iWitness News noted that the evidence suggests that COVID-19 spreads just as easily among vaccinated people as it does unvaccinated people.
In response, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan noted the process through which approval for these events are given, as detailed earlier by Shanika John, a health promotion officer.
“And also, we do our utmost at the events themselves to make sure we have some sort of eyes and representation there to see. But, again, this is, you know, we’re relying on the — how do I put this? You’re relying on the good faith of the people whom we’ve authorised to have these events [that] they will follow the protocol.
“And if they don’t follow the protocol, we’re also relying on the good faith and good intentions and responsibility of the patrons who are attending these events. So if they see any violations of anything, that they should report it to the organisers and report it to us,” Duncan said.
He said that the point about vaccinated and unvaccinated people being able to contract and spread COVID is “quite true”.
“But then we have to remember, for COVID-19 disease is a wide spectrum, and the outcome, we know clearly, the outcomes for COVID-19, the worst outcomes are in the group of people who are unvaccinated.
“So while it is true that both vaccinated and unvaccinated, could contract COVID and could spread COVID, the likelihood of severe disease and death is much greater, significantly greater, in the unvaccinated group.”
Returning to the policing of vaccinated events, Duncan said:
“… we’re really depending on, to some extent, on the good faith of the people who are organising these events, on the patrons who are attending these events.
“Because responsible people, hopefully, won’t sit at an event or be at the event where they see the protocols are being trampled on, and say nothing or don’t do anything.
“But we have put in the safeguards that we could. And you know, there’s really so much and we can’t guarantee anyone 100% that a certain organiser or promoter or someone would not attempt to violate the rules.”
Commenting on the subject, John said that there are health and security personnel that have been trained and approved by the Ministry of Health and the police force.
“In fact, we’re going to have another session before the weekend to prepare ourselves for the weekend events. In the past, we’ve had about four fully vaccinated events; promoters that applied. One of those activities was cancelled the very day in which the activity was supposed to [take place], simply because they failed to comply with the requirements that were stated,” John said.
She further stated:
“At this time, the ministry is not standing behind anyone who fails to comply. There’s a list of persons that are allowed to enter the activity. There’s no selling of tickets at the door. And this is for those social activities.”
John said that for other events, such as a church retreat or fun day, organisers have to meet the requirements within the Ministry of Health.
“And personally, if I find out that there is a specific activity that is not meeting those requirements, immediately, I notify the chief medical officer and the Commissioner of Police so that the necessary actions can be taken,” John said.