Before the government mandated that certain workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19, police officers should have been guided by the nature of the job and taken the jab.
This opinion was advanced by Superintendent of Police (SOP), Trevor Bailey during the Issues at Hand programme on WEFM on Sunday November 14 where he among other things urged officers to become vaccinated before the November 19 date when the mandate comes into effect.
The police officer noted the argument being put forward by the Police Welfare Association, whose chairman, Station Sergeant Brenton Smith has publicly stated the organisation’s opposition to mandatory vaccination.
“I hear the argument but I am not convinced that the argument is one of merit. The topical issue that I’m getting from them is the issue…that the government has made vaccination mandatory and that, to me, is their greatest objection to the vaccination process,” Bailey said.
“But I’ll say to them that the government, so to speak, doesn’t go out on the street and do the day to day activities as required of us as police officers. They are the policy makers and I’m sure that when the decision was taken, it was in the best interest of St Vincent and the Grenadines so we…as one of the stakeholders in the process, we ought to see it for what it is worth and get vaccinated.”
The SOP noted that officers should adhere to the COVID-19 protocols of mask wearing, sanitising and physical distancing.
He added however, that in some instances, the nature of the job, particularly in instances of effecting an arrest or fights in progress, does not allow for physical distancing.
“The mask that is worn can easily shift or fall from your face and the exposure is real so the nature of our job requires us to be vaccinated to give ourselves a fighting chance, in the event that we are infected with the coronavirus,” Bailey said.
Police officers (including firemen and members of the Coast Guard) are among certain workers under the SR&O No 28 of 2021 — The Public Health (Public bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021 that are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Police officers number 1250 of nearly 5900 employees of the state who are mandated to be vaccinated or lose their jobs.
And according to Bailey, about 70 per cent of officers in the Police Force are already vaccinated. But he urged the remainder estimated 30 per cent to take the vaccine by the time the mandate comes into effect.
Bailey, the Divisional Commander of the South Central Division reminded officers that when they became members of the force, it was in keeping with the mission to make this country a safer place as well as making a difference in communities for others to emulate.
“Now it’s time for us to put our hands up and come to the party so to speak. Get vaccinated. It protects not only you but your family. It protects the wider society and it gives, as I said before, a fighting chance…” the police officer said.
“The evidence is clear. COVID is no joke. It is not the ordinary common cold. For a long period, we were static at 12 deaths and within the space of a month and a half, we skyrocketed to 70 plus. It’s real that COVID kills and I trust the science. I believe the statistics coming from the Ministry of Health when they say that the persons who would’ve succumbed to COVID were unvaccinated persons and I’m not saying that if you’re vaccinated you won’t contract COVID but again, if you are vaccinated, you’re giving yourself a serious fighting chance. Why won’t you do that? For the love of yourself, why won’t you do that?,” he queried.
Bailey also said that persons tend to believe in negative things in the news in foreign contexts, instead of focusing on the present situation locally.
“It is evident right here in St Vincent and the Grenadines that we have a serious issue with COVID. Let us deal with what is before us and do the right thing and get vaccinated,” he said. “We in the police force, we are around 69, 70 per cent vaccinated in the force. I am anticipating, I’m very hopeful that more officers who are a bit hesitant at this moment will come to the party and get vaccinated so that when we come on the morning of the 22nd, we won’t have to part ways with each other.”
The SOP added that “the police force, the organisation, loves all its members. All of its members are valuable to the organisation.
There’s no one who we place more importance over the other. We all have a role to play and should we play that role, we can only be victorious in the fight against COVID, against crime, against anything that we combine ourselves against, we will be victorious”.