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Minister of Health, St. Clair "Jimmy" Prince speaking in Parliament on Thursday, May 9, 2024.
Minister of Health, St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince speaking in Parliament on Thursday, May 9, 2024.

Minister of Health St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince says he is not aware that the government terminated people who did not take the COVID-19 vaccine nor does he know about “international court cases” and “new science” surrounding the jabs.

He was speaking in Parliament in response to opposition lawmaker, MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock who said  a number of public servants were terminated because they did not take the COVID-19 vaccine.

“In view of the new science and international court cases, do we owe these persons an apology and appropriate recompense?” Leacock asked during the question-and-answer session of Parliament.

“There are a few questionable things in the question itself,” said Prince, who became minister of health in November 2020.

“There’s the issue of termination by the government. The government has never terminated anybody. International court cases and new science? I’m not aware of them. Certainly not in respect of our COVID-19 response,” he further said. 

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He said that his ministry is advised by the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, Caribbean Public Health Agency, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “and they have not given us that impression.

“Suffice it to say though, the matter is before the Court of Appeal in our jurisdiction and the court has heard our submissions just a week ago or so and are yet to make a judgement.

“And because this matter is sub judice, it will not be proper for me, I think, to say much more about it at this time. I hope the member understands,” Prince said.

However, Leacock asked Prince whether he was “accepting that AstraZeneca and company they’re still alive”.

St. Clair Leacock 2
MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock speaking in Parliament on Thursday, May 9, 2024.

Prince responded:

“I was vaccinated. Yes — AstraZeneca as you can see, I’m very much alive.”

The Telegraph reported on May 7 that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was being withdrawn worldwide, months after the pharmaceutical giant admitted for the first time in court documents that it can cause a rare and dangerous side effect.

AstraZeneca said the vaccine was being removed from markets for commercial reasons. It said the vaccine was no longer being manufactured or supplied, having been superseded by updated vaccines that tackle new variants.

In response to the pandemic, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines passed Statutory Rule & Order (SR&O) No. 28 of 2021, a law approved by the Cabinet.

Regulation 8(1) of the SR&O, commonly called the vaccine mandate law, provides that an unvaccinated employee must not enter the workplace and is to be treated as being absent from duty without leave, even if they attempt to enter the workplace.

In December 2021, hundreds of public sector workers lost their job after the government deemed them to have abandoned their jobs. 

The Public Service Union, SVG Teachers’ Union and the Police Welfare Association sponsored a lawsuit, which was brought in the names of “dismissed” public sector workers, Shanile Howe, Novita Robert, Cavet Thomas, Alfonzo Lyttle, Brenton Smith, Sylvorne Olliver, Shefflorn Ballantyne, Travis Cumberbatch and Rohan Giles.

The respondents were the Minister of Health and the Environment, the Public Service Commission, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and the Police Service Commission.

In March 2023, High Court judge Justice Esco Henry ruled that the Ralph Gonsalves government violated the Constitution when it deemed the workers who did not take a COVID-19 vaccine to have abandoned their jobs.

Justice Henry held that the government’s decision to fire the unvaccinated workers breached natural justice, contravened the Constitution, was unlawful, procedurally improper and void.

The government appealed the decision and the Court of Appeal heard the submissions on May 2.

Presenting the government’s case, Anthony Astaphan said the appeal “is a matter of considerable public importance. It is not your usual constitutional case.

Astaphan noted that the lawsuit arose “from the throes of a pandemic caused by COVID-19” that was hospitalising and killing the people of SVG “especially, and perhaps mostly, those who were unvaccinated”.

However, representing the respondents, Cara Shillingford-Marsh argued that if the Court of Appeal quashes Justice Henry’s ruling, the court would permit the government to abuse public servants.

The lawyer noted that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is now offering employment on a case-by-case and contractual basis to the workers who lost their jobs under the mandate.

She said this means that the workers are no longer public servants nor do they have public service protection.

“This cannot be permitted to stand by the courts because it makes nonsense of our Constitution and it erodes and erases a very important part of the Constitution, which is aimed at protecting the public service,” Shillingford-Marsh told the court.

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2 Comments

  1. Luckie u gymmie but what about d others. Don’t b so soon presumptuous. Does science really know on to this day d long term effect of this drug that had no track record before authorization?

    Reply

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