NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (April 29, 2021) – – Hon. Premier Mark Brantley, Minister of Health and Human Resources in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) says there is presently no plan to implement policy making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for public servants on Nevis.
“The public sector in Nevis being vaccinated? My position is I’m encouraging, I’m advocating I am begging, I’m beseeching, I’m pleading…
“The policy and position right now is we continue to encourage. At this point there is no plan in relation to the public service and making the vaccine mandatory…because that is fraught with difficulty,” he said at his monthly press conference on April 28, 2021.
The Premier assured that the government of Nevis is not taking a ‘big stick’ approach with respect to its employees getting vaccinated against the deadly virus. He stated however that their inaction in this regard has direct consequences on the government’s ability to continue to pay their salaries each month.
“I want the public sector to appreciate that thus far we have been very privileged on the island of Nevis, because every public servant has been paid on time and in full.
“I cannot today give any assurance that that will continue indefinitely and I believe that the point has to be made because there are some people sitting down in government positions who figure ‘I’m safe, my pay is safe, my money is safe, so I’m not worried about them because I don’t work in a hotel, I don’t work in Tourism’.
“And I’m saying that it’s the hotel and tourism and the businesses that generate taxes for the government to pay you. So understand that nobody is safe; and I’m a public servant, I put myself in that category. Nobody is safe in so far as their job and their salary and all of that is concerned.”
Mr. Brantley pointed out that other governments in the region have already put their civil service on notice that very soon they may not be able to meet salary obligations, while others have already implemented partial payment of government workers’ salaries.
He underscored the importance of St. Kitts and Nevis reaching the 70 percent inoculation benchmark in order to achieve herd immunity so that the country could re-open safely and persons could get back to earning a living.
“I just want our people to understand that this is an effort for everybody and that it is not a time for us to be selfish and to stand on individual rights to the detriment of the rights of others.
“Rights are what they are. We call them individual rights but individual rights have community implications.”
As at April 27, 2972 persons on Nevis had received their first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for a vaccination rate of about 36 percent. Similarly, the national rate stands at about 37 percent since the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program was rolled out in February 2021.
Premier Brantley said the NIA and its various health agencies would continue to engage the public, business places and organisations to educate and encourage persons to take the vaccine.
He noted that he has met with the parliamentary opposition member and expressed to the Opposition party in writing his willingness to work with them to encourage the populace to become vaccinated as soon as possible for the island and the country to move forward in a positive way.