A GROUP COMPRISING retired public servants and Social and Community Development specialists, has come together to provide support at the community level for the national vaccination effort.
One of the drivers behind this initiative Cecil Ryan, a Development Consultant, told SEARCHLIGHT that the idea came about as he was reflecting on the state of COVID-19 infections and the vaccination drive with one of the co-hosts of his weekly Sunday morning discussion programme “Issue at Hand” on WEFM.
“I kind of realised that what they (Ministry of Health) are doing was perhaps not the most effective,” he noted; “I had earlier spoken with Lanceford (Weekes) …and basically saying to him that they need to have a people to people approach, a more direct, a community approach.”
The team, which meets virtually on Thursdays, is providing support not only to the Community Caravans organised by the Ministry of Health, but to other initiatives organised by individuals and organisations who have decided to themselves step in to buttress the vaccination drive.
In this regard he mentioned such efforts as those of the entertainers supported by the St Vincent Brewery’s Shafia London, who are targeting the under-30’s; a mask distribution drive by the Lions Clubs in St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG), co-ordinated by Lion, Junior Bacchus; as well as the SVG Community College which organised a vaccination drive last week. “So basically what we discussed is how each person could work in his or her area to advance the work,” Ryan said an advance group of volunteers will move into communities ahead of the vaccination caravans organised by the Ministry of Health to have person-to-person engagements with residents and help them understand the need to get vaccinated. The group, which is increasing in number, has also “been reaching out to the communitybased leaders to ask them to mobilise within their community and have their members to assist.” As of last weekend, contacts had been made with persons from Fancy to Calliaqua who have agreed to assist.
On the weekend, under the Lion’s Clubs efforts, 1850 masks were distributed in communities on Union Island, and 1500 at Diamond where Bacchus and Andrew Simmons, who is in SVG for a few weeks, did mobilisation work ahead of the arrival of a vaccination caravan.
Ryan is anticipating an uptick in the number of people coming forward to be vaccinated and sees the community mobilisation “as a significant complementary effort” to the national vaccination drive.
The Social Development volunteers are also anticipating that the target aim of the group of entertainers to have 50,000 persons vaccinated by December 31, is attained.