Prime Minister Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell received his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday, 10 weeks after the first dose was administered on 16 February.
The Prime Minister has been championing the Covid-19 vaccination programme, urging persons to get vaccinated as part of efforts to fully restart the economy. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has upended the lives of many people, not only in Grenada but around the world and vaccination is regarded as the key to resuming some sense of normalcy.
Since the start of the pandemic, various protocols have been put in place, to limit the potential spread of the disease and these have essentially led to a slowdown in economic activity and social activities that promote mass gatherings.
Dr Mitchell acknowledged the great level of frustration being experienced all around, particularly by young people and he expressed great empathy for the people of this country. He said, “Remembering how I grew up and the importance of social interaction, I can understand the frustration that I see around the country. I myself feel affected by it as I spend more time at home now than I have ever done in my entire life, but I understand what is necessary. The alternative to not adhering to the rules and maintaining the protocols can be far more disastrous than what we are experiencing now. The fact is, we want to get back to life as normal and have all the social interaction that we are accustomed to, the only way we can safely do this is for us to vaccinate.”
Addressing the reluctance of some people to get vaccinated, the Prime Minister said vaccination is a normal process that we have been exposed to for many years and something which has been traditionally required to enter the education system and for travel to some parts of the world.
Dr Mitchell reiterated his call for the leaders of various organisations, churches, the business community, and various social groups to start speaking out about vaccination.
The Prime Minister said, “The fact is, the impact of Covid-19 on business has been pretty devastating and the leadership in this sector understands that to get back to where they were and to enjoy the level of business activity they did before, they must encourage their people to vaccinate. But I have not heard enough of the business community’s leadership promoting that. Similarly, the trade union leadership has a responsibility, moral and otherwise, to lead in that respect, along with all other organisations, at all levels. The churches have generally played a responsible role but there are still some weaknesses.”
Minister of Health Honourable Nickolas Steele, who also received his second dose on Friday, said dealing with the pandemic has been quite difficult, but Grenada has been quite successful in managing the spread of the disease locally. Minister Steele said, “Covid-19 is still wreaking havoc throughout the world. As with any other infectious disease, our first priority is to protect the population and when a vaccine is available, to vaccinate the population. With Covid-19 vaccines now available, this has to be seen as the key to the way forward and returning to life as normal. We would not be able to survive this Covid-19 threat if we are not vaccinated.”
Also receiving the second dose of the vaccine on Friday was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Oliver Joseph, who underscored the normality of vaccination. He said, “We have an opportunity here to be vaccinated and to get control over the virus. We all want to see tourists start coming in large numbers, we want to see St George’s University reopen, and we want to see businesses build back. To achieve that, we all have a part to play and that is to take the vaccine. When the economy starts booming again, everyone will benefit.”
Dr Bert Brathwaite who is Chairman of the Covid-19 Sub-Committee, has, like the Prime Minister, issued an appeal for leaders in various sectors to be more vocal. He said, “I have not felt enough, the pulse of the leadership of these organisations. We need to have the people at the forefront of these organisations, coming out and speaking forcefully and encouraging their membership to get vaccinated. Some members, understandably are consumed with a lot of negative information; the senior membership of these organisations know better and in many instances, they themselves have taken the vaccines. Therefore, I am appealing to them to come forward and play a more forceful role in getting the country vaccinated.”
The goal of the Ministry of Health is to have at least 80% of the adult population vaccinated. Since the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination programme on 12 February 12,121 people have received the first dose of the vaccine and 1,337 have already received their second dose. Persons are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving the second dose.