Local Taxi Drivers have been equipped with the relevant information regarding vaccination against Covid-19 as local health officials continue the drive to up the rate of Covid-vaccination in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Addressing the sensitization session held at the Mike Findlay Pavilion at Arnos Vale on Thursday 24th June 2021, Infectious Disease Specialist – Dr. Jerrol Thompson emphasized that if the right actions are not taken the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to continue, noting that “there are side effects from the pandemic in terms of a social fall out.” Dr. Thompson alluded to people being depressed and a rise in job losses especially in the Tourism sector where he noted there has been a significant decrease in tourist arrivals.
Stressing that Taxi Drivers are part of the ‘first point of contact’ Dr. Thompson noted that it is important for them to safeguard themselves against the threat of Covid-19. The Infectious Disease Specialist said the vaccine is highly effective and reiterated that tourists want to visit in a country that is safe. He urged the Taxi Drivers to get vaccinated to provide a high level of protection for themselves and others.
Former District Medical Officer for the Southern Grenadines, and former UWI Lecturer, Vincentian, Dr. Malcolm Grant highlighted concerns about the sensationalism associated with the Covid-19 virus and the misinformation that is overshadowing the “evidence-based medicine” and outlined the complications associated with Covid-19 which include brain fog, early alzymers, excessive shortness of breath and Erectile Dysfunction, among others.
Addressing the issue of blood clots relating to taking the vaccine, Dr. Grant said, “the type of blood clot associated with Covid-19 is extremely rare, occurs at a rate of six, per million and is associated with low levels of platelets in the blood.”
Based on information received from the CMO, Dr. Grant said none of the deaths related to blood clots were related to low platelet levels.
Addressing the issue that the vaccine is being developed too quickly, Dr. Grant said the Corona virus is not new and the development of vaccines began since the first, SARS corona virus was identified in 2003 and later in 2012 MERS.
He noted that Scientists commenced work on vaccines then and added that the knowledge for the current Corona virus has existed for at least seventeen to eighteen years.
The former UWI lecturer said, “people are running from the vaccine based on propaganda,” and urged everyone to be well informed.
Identifying taxi drivers as a special group of people to him, since his wife is also a Taxi Driver, Chief Lab Technologist, Elliot Samuel explained the difference being vaccinated makes in fighting the virus. Samuel said once vaccinated persons are exposed to the virus the body’s defense system creates a rapid response to identify and fight the virus. He said, “the vaccines were not invented for any cynical purpose” but the vaccine gives a fighting chance in combatting the pandemic and added that “technology is far better now than before.”
Meantime, Chief Executive Officer of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache told the taxi drivers the country stands a better chance of returning to normalcy if they are vaccinated. Beache said, “I am fully vaccinated, my mother is eighty-nine years old and is fully vaccinated and there is nothing I would do to harm that woman.” Noting that “We have to get our act together.”
Beache pointed out that if this country is not on the UK’s Green List by a certain time “we will not get Virgin,” stressing that his team has worked hard to get these airlines here.
The Tourism Authority CEO also said that Cruise lines will not return unless the vaccination rate increases and if they do return all tours are going to be in a bubble and according to him “Taxi Drivers are the one’s to suffer the most.”
President of the SVG Taxi Drivers Association Winston “Popps” Morgan said the presentation was a fruitful one and those in attendance would leave with a different mindset. Morgan said it is very important to be vaccinated to get “our Tourism back up and running.”