St Vincent to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for frontline workers – NationNews Barbados – nationnews.com
Kingstown – The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will test legislation on Thursday amending the Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 which it says will allow certain categories of public sector employees to get vaccinated in order to work in “front line” jobs.
“Given the extent of misrepresentation and misinformation by some people about this bill, it is necessary and desirable to set the record straight,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said .
He added that the legislation “does not imply any legal sanction or punishment for anyone who fails and / or refuses to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19”.
Gonsalves said the government, however, intends to enact rules under the Public Health Act to require certain categories of public sector employees, including those in central government and state-owned enterprises, take the vaccine in order to work in certain specified “frontline” jobs.
“The choice to work or not to work in a particular trade which requires vaccination in the interest of public health will be that of the employee. Individual rights must always, in appropriate circumstances, be balanced against considerations of public interest, in this case the demands of public health. The relevant rules under the Public Health Law will be developed and published in the Official Gazette in due course, ”he said.
Last Thursday, the main opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), staged a street protest against the government’s proposed mandatory vaccination law that drew a lot of attention.
“We are practicing because the government offers no hope of getting out of this pandemic,” Opposition Leader Dr Godwin said on Friday. He said the protest was also targeting a number of issues, including jobs and allegedly missing public funds.
“We are protesting because the government has legislation on the books with the intention to impose vaccination,” he said, adding “as you know my party’s position is that we are in favor of vaccination, but it’s something that people need to do their own research and come to their own conclusion as to what is good and right after doing their research.
“It is not something that can be imposed and imposed on people. Nowhere in the world do they do that, ”the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) told Friday.
However, Gonsalves, in his statement, said that for civil servants the usual and relevant civil service regulations will apply in all material circumstances.
The government has stated that the rationale for amending the Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 is to allow “when a public health emergency is declared, the Minister may, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, implement special measures to mitigate or remedy the emergency.
“One of these measures includes establishing a voluntary vaccination program for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines or any part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Gonsalves said the Public Health Act, which was enacted on April 22, 1977, already provides that the minister can impose compulsory vaccination in the country “to prevent, control or suppress a communicable disease.”
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has recorded 2,291 cases and 12 deaths from the virus since the first case was detected in March last year.
The island has so far vaccinated 25,635 people, or 11.6% of its population. (CMC)