Tue | Nov 30, 2021

St Vincent mandates vaccination for teachers and other school staff

Published:Friday | October 1, 2021 | 1:43 PM
Gonsalves: “On the basis of the advice which we have received, including advice from the medical authorities… it was decided to put in these regulations… teachers as frontline workers.” - Contributed photo.

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – The St Vincent and the Grenadines government has mandated that teachers and other school staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“On the basis of the advice which we have received, including advice from the medical authorities, those on the health services subcommittee of NEMO (National Emergency Management Organisation), it was decided to put in these regulations, to include teachers as frontline workers,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said.

He said that this would also apply to “those who are working at the schools, the cooks and so on, everybody who comes in touch with children.

“There are basic reasons for this. First of all, there is an uptick in the number of persons who are contracting COVID and the positivity rate is in excess of 10 per cent,” Gonsalves said, adding that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country was rising.

“There were 12 deaths for a long time and in just over a week we have had eight, almost one a day. Now, that's serious business,” Gonsalves said.

“Secondly, the fact that we have a number of young people who have been contracting COVID and parents and teachers have been calling, and the general public, for us to include teachers, and on balance, it was decided, yes, given what is taking place,” Gonsalves said, noting that the mandate is for the period of the public health emergency.

“Now, among the teachers, the secondary school teachers, I have seen some numbers, maybe one-third of them vaccinated. Schools like the Grammar School, for instance, I was really surprised to see that of the 57 members of staff only five are vaccinated.”

Gonsalves added that at the St Martin's Secondary School, all of the staff are vaccinated.

“So you have these extremes. A lot of schools are in between these extreme points,” he said, noting that the government had made a decision that was to be implemented on April 12, when teachers would present either their certificate of vaccination or a PCR test or they wouldn't be allowed at work.

“Now, the situation has changed. And, apart from the uptick, you are now having the variants: the Delta, the Gamma, and the Mu. These are more easily transmissible and the Delta is rampant in the country,” Gonsalves said.

“People tend to forget that this virus needs a host. The host is the human being and the virus moves because the human beings move and you come into contact with one another and it's easily transmissible and it's more serious to make you sick more easily.”

St Vincent and the Grenadines has recorded 21 deaths and 3, 508 positive cases linked to the virus since the first case was reported in March last year.

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