BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- PRIME MINISTER of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is reminding that his territory has to balance between health and the economy as the government-imposed vaccine mandate continues.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of several territories that imposed vaccine mandates on the population in order to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible, as hesitancy remains prevalent.
Appearing this morning (Nov. 15) on Boom 106.5 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the prime minister noted that many of the criticisms expressed were factors taken into consideration before the mandate was imposed.
“I do not want to see anyone lose his or her job but we will not get back to normalcy unless the frontline or strategic persons in the public and private sector take the vaccine. The economy of this small country will be badly affected . The health of our people will be badly affected,” Dr. Gonsalves suggested.
Students, teachers and other frontline workers, including the sergeant at Arms in the Parliament have all tested positive for the virus on the island. And this, the prime minister believes, should highlight the importance of frontline workers becoming vaccinated.
While responding to a caller, Dr. Gonsalves asserts that if there is a 80 percent vaccination rate then there is no need for any government to implement a vaccine mandate on the population. But on St. Vincent and the Grenadines the rate is said to still be amongst the lowest in the region. According to the Ministry of Health, the island would have administered 48,576 dose of various vaccines.
“Every situation is different. But, the overall context for us to get back to normalcy we have to use the best tool in the tool box, and that is the vaccine,” he added.
The prime minister brushed off suggestions that as a result of the mandate many persons will go jobless, instead pointing out that a number of projects are on stream but those people should get vaccinated to protect those with whom they work.
He conceded that there are likely going to be people in certain types of jobs, specifically within the private sector who are going to lose their employment status due to the mandate.
“We have a number of very important initiatives, which are economic initiatives, which are going on right now and they will expand in their roll out, a number of big projects, a number of big foreign investments,” noted Dr. Gonsalves.
One such initiative is the construction of the Sandal project, which is expected to hire approximately 900 persons.
When the government in Kingstown revealed that they were moving to impose vaccine mandates on the island, protesters took to the streets outside of Parliament. During that anti-vax rally, Dr. Gonsalves was struck in the head with a stone which was thrown by a female who has since been arrested and charged.