As part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, several prominent members of society were invited to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The intention of this initiative was to use leaders in society to encourage others to register and take the vaccine. Among those accepting the task were clergy from the Archdiocese of Castries: Archbishop Robert Rivas OP, Vicar General Msgr Michel Francis, and Fr Albert Smith.
In a video clip from Catholic Television Broadcasting Service (CTBS), Archbishop Rivas shared that he received the vaccine on the morning of Thursday, March 4.
“And you know, I’m very happy that I got the vaccine. And I saw many other people there. I also saw other clergy there,” the Archbishop said, referring to Fr Smith and Msgr Francis.
The Archbishop hoped as church leaders were responding to the call to be vaccinated, so too others will respond even though the vaccine is not “imposed” upon them.
“We need to make choices and decisions about receiving it for our own good health and the health of others and the protection of others,” he said.
In the ten-minute clip, Archbishop Rivas points to a pin on his shirt which read ‘Ministry of Health, Saint Lucia. I got my COVID-19 vaccine’. He also displayed his immunisation card which confirms he received the vaccine and indicates the date he is to return to receive his second shot.
“All I can say is God is good. I wasn’t sure when this was going to happen, but it has happened. The time has come, and your opportunity will come. And I want to encourage you as your bishop to seriously consider getting vaccinated. Don’t make any excuses….” Archbishop Rivas said.
Meanwhile Msgr Francis shared that he did not experience any side effects of the COVID vaccine. He, however, said he had “a bit of soreness” at the injection site.
Similarly, Msgr Francis said he would “certainly encourage” not just parishioners, but the entire St Lucian population to take the vaccine. “Because it’s going to bring about one’s own safety, the safety of everybody else. And if between 75 to 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, then we can achieve a herd immunity…. Go for it, it’s worth it,” he said.
For Fr Smith, the experience was “very rewarding”. The concept of receiving the vaccine, he said, is to live out the gospel value to love thy neighbour as yourself.