Volcano Emergency in St. Vincent, but Pandemic Vaccination Questions Hampering Efforts to Help People

CREDIT: Screenshot/CBS News

We’ve been writing about the potential problems of the concept of a vaccine passport, denying people entry into events, businesses or travel unless they are able to prove they are vaccinated.

We’ve spoken about how problematic this could potentially be for cutting people out of society.

But a report from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent shows how requiring vaccination can even throw roadblocks helping people in the middle of a volcanic emergency.

A powerful explosion from the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent went off yesterday. The volcano has been spewing a lot of ash since, covering the area like an intense snowstorm, and the government has ordered an evacuation. Possible explosive eruptions could continue for days and weeks. The last time it went off was more than 40 years ago and in 1902, when it went off, 1,600 people were killed.

So it’s obviously a very dangerous situation and the people need to evacuate areas in the vicinity of the volcano. 16,000 people have been ordered to leave the area.

They have cruise ships to help evacuate people to other islands that have offered to help out and have set up hotels as shelters. 2,000 are in government shelters.

But the pandemic is throwing a wrench into the efforts.

A CBS News report about what was happening on the island raised a lot of eyebrows and rightfully so, when it said that cruise ships that had come to help evacuate people were not taking people if they weren’t vaccinated for the virus.

This report comes from the announcement of St. Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves who said “people have to be vaccinated if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in another island.” Gonsalves said two Royal Caribbean cruise ships and two Carnival Cruise Lines would be taking people and islands that have said they would accept evacuees included St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

Now, this sounds like they’re just saying that they wouldn’t take people who aren’t vaccinated, which would be pretty much most of the island since the vaccines just arrived there and they’ve only vaccinated about 10,000 people.

But after looking at it, it appears to be that Gonsalves is saying the government will vaccinate anyone before they go on the ships or to the other islands. It appeared to be the government saying they wanted to vaccinate people before they took these options; it didn’t come from the cruise ships. Presumably so they’re not spreading elsewhere and then not bringing back anything when they come back.

Carnival Cruise Lines said they are not requiring vaccinations.

But hotels that were being turned into refugee centers were asking that people be vaccinated, a request that Gonsalves said was “not unreasonable.” The government said that anyone staying in a shelter would be tested for the virus and anyone tested would be taken to an isolation center.

So, a few thoughts.

I hope they all get out safely.

First, maybe in the middle of a volcanic emergency, that should be the first concern — getting people to safe shelter. Seriously. The pandemic shouldn’t be holding up anyone from getting to safety or to shelter. If a hotel is holding up sheltering you if you’re not vaccinated, they should examine their soul.

Second, if you get the shot now, and it doesn’t matter which shot it is, then go on a ship or to another island, you’re still exposed to whatever, because it takes a couple of weeks to build up any protection and you will still need a second shot for the Pfizer and the Moderna to reportedly get the full protection. So, this seems a lot of action over something that wouldn’t even provide protection for two weeks and even then, not full protection until the second shot, if it’s Pfizer or Moderna, when you’re going to be traveling right now.

Then, what about the kids… if they aren’t giving vaccines to kids? Are they just out of luck? They have to stay outside in the ash?