Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had to receive treatment after receiving a blow to the head during protests on Thursday.
Initial reports indicate he was hit in the head by an object thrown by a demonstrator who was among those protesting proposed changes to the Public Health Act.
The amendments would remove the word “voluntary” from a section of the law that speaks to vaccination against an illness that triggers the declaration of a public health emergency, such as COVID-19.
The Prime Minister was on his way back to Parliament, where the amendments were scheduled to be debated, when the incident occurred.
Video circulating on social media shows blood to the right side of his head as he is rushed from the area.
Shouts of “shield, shield” could be heard as Prime Minister Gonsalves was covered by security forces after being hit.
The St Vincent government had also planned to make vaccines mandatory for certain categories of public sector employees in order to work in “frontline” jobs.
“Given the extent of the misrepresentations, and misinformation by some persons about this Bill, it is necessary and desirable to put the record straight,” Dr Gonsalves said last week, adding that the legislation “does not involve any legal penalty or punishment on anyone who fails and/or refuses to take the vaccine or test for COVID-19.”
Gonsalves said that it is the intention of the government, however, to make rules under the Public Health Act to require certain categories of employees in the public sector, including those in central government and state enterprises, to take the vaccine in order to work in certain specified “frontline” jobs.
“The choice of working or not working in a particular job which requires vaccination in the interest of public health will be that of the employee. Individual rights are always required in the appropriate circumstances to be balanced by public interest considerations, in this case, the requisites of public health. The relevant rules under the Public Health Act will be made and published in due course in the official gazette,” he said.
Last Thursday, the main opposition New Democratic Party staged a street protest against the government’s proposed mandatory vaccination law.