Just under one-quarter of district medical officers and just over half of nurses in district clinics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have taken a COVID-19 vaccine, a situation that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says is unacceptable.
“The community nursing, that’s the nursing in the clinics, 55% are vaccinated and in the hospital services, 42.6% are vaccinated — less than half,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio.
And of the 13 district medical officers, only three are vaccinated. That’s 23%. I don’t understand how a doctor could be a district medical officer not taking the vaccine,” the prime minister said Wednesday in his weekly appearance on the state-owned radio station.
“I just don’t understand that. I want to ask the question, how can they be relied upon to give a medical certificate to say somebody must get a health exemption or medical exemption when they themselves not taking the vaccine? And some of these young doctors, persons — come on, professionals, please take the vaccine nuh,” he said.
Gonsalves said that at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), the nation’s main healthcare facility, 90% of doctors are vaccinated.
“And I’d really like to see the other 10% so we have complete vaccination down there.”
The prime minister detailed the number of healthcare professionals at various state-owned entities and in various services who have taken the jab.
“… this is not being done to name and shame because I ain’t naming anybody,” he said and proceeded to read out the areas in hospital services “where the numbers are poor”.
At the Maternity Ward of the MCMH, of the 37 staff members, only eight area vaccination, while 11 of the 29 at the Paediatric Ward have taken the jab.
“I’m talking about the nursing staff,” the prime minister reiterated, adding that at the Operating Theatre/Intensive Care Unit, 17 of the 41 staff are vaccinated.
At Male Medical Ward, seven of the 24 staff are vaccinated while 12 of the 24 at the Female Medical ward are vaccinated.
At the Argyle Isolation Facility six of the seven nurses are vaccinated.
“I don’t know how somebody could work at the Argyle Isolation Facility and not vaccinate, unless there’s — I don’t know; I just don’t know. Maybe somebody could explain that.”
At the Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre, of the 56 staff members 31 are vaccinated.
“And look, when we were opening that, people were just rushing you down to go there you know. Please take the vaccine, nuh. You know you should be taking it, please,” Gonsalves said.
He said that the numbers are better at the Georgetown Hospital, where 11 of the 15 staff members are vaccinated.
At the Lewis Punnet Home, a home for the indigent poor and the severely physically challenged, 12 of the 31 staff members are vaccinated.
“Out of 380, the medical staff, I’m talking [about] the nursing staff, 162 are vaccinated — 42.6%,” the prime minister said, giving the overall figure.
“It’s better in the community services. For instance, health nursing supervisors, eight out of 12 are vaccinated. The family nurse practitioners, all seven of them are vaccinated; foot health practitioners, two out of three; and, at the senior nursing office staff, two out of three. So that administrative group there involving those senior professionals with the nurses, 20 of them out there, 26 are vaccinated,” the prime minister said.
Vaccination by health districts
In terms of the health districts, as it relates to staff nurses, nursing assistants, community health aids, auxiliary and female attendants, 70% in the Kingstown district are vaccinated.
In the Calliaqua district, which includes Belair, Calliaqua, Enhams and Stubbs, 46% are vaccinated.
“We got to do better,” the prime minister commented.
He said that in Marriaqua, which includes the Evesham, Levi Latham, Richland Park, Greiggs and Lowmans Wd health centres, 51% of workers are vaccinated.
In the Cedars Health District, which includes the Biabou, Diamonds, Colonarie, South Rivers and Park Hill health centres, the figure is 80%.
In the Georgetown District, which includes the Byrera, Georgetown Health, Overland, Sandy Bay, Owia and Fancy health centres, it is 80%.
In the Pembroke Health District, which includes Clare Valley, Retreat, Layou, and Barrouallie health centres as well as Buccament Polyclinic, the vaccinated percentage is 47.
In the Chateaubelair health district, which includes the Coulls Hill, Troumaca, Rose Hall, and Chateaubelair health centres, the figure is 54%.
In the Northern Grenadines, which includes the Port Elizabeth, and Paget Farm health centres as well as the Port Elizabeth Hospital, the total staff is 16 and only three — or 19%— are vaccinated.
In the Southern Grenadines, which includes Mayreau, Clifton, Ashton and Canouan heath centres as well as the Celena Clouden Hospital ,42% are vaccinated.
“So, the total community nursing staff of 233, 129 vaccinated, 104 not vaccinated — 55%,” the prime minister said.
Doctors, nurses know the facts
“Nurses can’t tell me they don’t know the facts. Doctors can’t tell me they don’t know the facts. Surely, you should be in a different profession because the science is clear. I’m not talking about some of the nonsense that you get on social media.
“Look, you see me, I have to guide public policy with science, I’ve to guide it with facts. I can’t guide it with superstition and I can’t guide it with abstract reasoning. I have to deal with facts as I see them and I have to deal with science. If I try and do it otherwise, I will not be true to my oath, I will not be true to myself. I will not be representing the interest of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the prime minister said.
He noted the uptick in cases, which has seen the number of active cases rise from 32 on Aug. 31, to 697 as of Wednesday, Sept. 22.
Further, the country has recorded an additional five COVID-19 deaths since Sept. 9, bringing the total to 17, up from 12 in May.
There are 19 patients admitted for COVID-19 at the Argyle Isolation Facility, 18 of whom are vaccinated, while one is partially vaccinated.
A further five patients have been admitted to the COVID-19 ward at the MCHM.
“All are unvaccinated and the vaccination status of one patient is awaiting verification,” the National Emergency Management Organisation said on Thursday.
“We see this situation getting worse with the uptick and remember this uptick which we are having is now over 600 active cases. These are more — because of the spread of the Delta and the Gamma variant which are more easily transmissible which are more dangerous to your health.
“The vaccine is not 100% foolproof; no drug is. But the real-life experiences tell you that the best tool in the toolbox, apart from what they tell you, studies from the lab, the real world all around us, all over the world, that the persons who don’t take the vaccine, who are unvaccinated, they are many, many times more likely that they’re going to get the virus, they’re going to get very sick and they are many more times likely to die than if you take the vaccine.”
The prime minister said that there is also an uptick in people, including nurses, taking the jab.
“It is true that there is an uptick in … people taking the vaccine, among the nurses too, because on August 25 it was 35%. One month later it gone up 10 percentage points. But it should go up faster,” Gonsalves said.
The AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Pfizer vaccines are available for free in SVG.