Just under one-quarter of district medical officers and just over half of nurses in district clinics here have taken a COVID-19 vaccine, a situation that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says is unacceptable.
“The community nursing – that’s the nursing in the clinics – 55 per cent are vaccinated and in the hospital services, 42.6 per cent are vaccinated — less than half,” the Prime Minister said on Wednesday in his weekly appearance on the state-owned on NBC Radio.
“And of the 13 district medical officers, only three are vaccinated. That’s 23 per cent. I don’t understand how a doctor could be a district medical officer not taking the vaccine. 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?” Gonsalves added as he appealed to the professionals to “take the vaccine, nuh”.
Gonsalves said that at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), the nation’s main healthcare facility, 90 per cent of doctors are vaccinated.
“And I’d really like to see the other 10 per cent so we have complete vaccination down there,” he added.
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, before identifying the areas where vaccination numbers “are poor”.
Saying he could not understand why doctors and nurses would not take the vaccine, particularly those who deal with COVID-19 patients, Gonsalves added: “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 have 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.”
He noted the uptick in COVID-19 cases, with the number of active cases increasing from 32 on August 31, to 697 as of Wednesday.
Further, the country has recorded an additional five COVID-19 deaths since September 9, bringing the total to 17. Up to May, the country had recorded 12 deaths since March 2020.
There are 19 patients admitted at the Argyle Isolation Facility, 18 of whom are vaccinated, while the other 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.
Prime Minister Gonsalves warned that the COVID-19 situation could get worse.
“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 per cent foolproof; no drug is. But the real-life experiences tell you that … the persons who don’t take the vaccine, who are unvaccinated, they are many, many times more likely 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,” he said.
Prime Minister Gonsalves did acknowledge that there has been an increase in the number of people, including nurses, taking the jab.
However, he said, “it should go up faster”.
The AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Pfizer vaccines are available for free here.