P.M. Hon. Mia Mottley takes a different approach to other Caribbean leaders on vaccines

By Liz Myke Published on August 23, 2021
P.M. Hon. Mia Mottley takes a different approach to other Caribbean leaders on vaccines

There has been much controversy within the Caribbean surrounding the COVID-19 vaccinations. Many persons are against taking the vaccine for either religious, medical, or other personal reasons and completely disagree with the way their government has chosen to force them to take the jab, especially without consultation with the public.

Citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines stood together in protest of the government’s decision to mandate the vaccine for frontline workers. The protest became violent and resulted in Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Ralph Gonsalves being hit in his head with a projectile and subsequently hospitalized.

Several other Caribbean islands, including St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Barbados, Guyana, St. Croix, and the BVI, also erupted in protests.

In addition to the governments throughout the Caribbean taking the stance to mandate the COVID-19 vaccines in certain facets of society, private companies have also opted to demand that their employees take the vaccine or be terminated. Several persons have lost their jobs as a result.

Most recently, in St. Kitts, persons were terminated from their jobs after serving the companies for over 25 years, without any compensation, for their decision not to take the vaccine. The unjust terminations and government discussions potentially mandating that children 12 years and older who attend government schools take the COVID-19 vaccine to heighten frustrations, and persons took to the streets in protest.

Police officers showed up to a peaceful protest armed with rifles, tear gas, and tasers to intimidate the demonstrators. In several videos circulating, tasers are heard being fired at protesters as they stood on the sidewalk.

Three protesters were arrested, one of whom is a popular podcaster. The three individuals were granted bail today (Monday 23rd August) at EC$15,000 each. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) stated the charges are from two separate protests held on August 2nd and 20th. They were charged with breach of the peace, willful obstruction, resisting arrest, obstruction of a police officer, and malicious damage. However, the DPP stated he intends to withdraw the charges for the first instance due to insufficient evidence.

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Timothy Harris has remained silent throughout this ordeal. He has chosen not to speak out against the injustice being meted out by the private sector or violate the protesters' rights.

Meanwhile, in Barbados, Prime Minister Hon. In a recent press briefing, Mia Mottley stated that “My cabinet and I all agree that we should not mandate the vaccine. We are philosophically opposed to the mandating of vaccines; that’s not who we are as a people.”

Prime Minister Mottley added, “Barbados’ overriding objective must be keeping our country safe, but equally to keep our country united. That is who we are. Covid has done enough damage already. It has threatened too many of us. It has taken those 48 persons regrettably, but Covid must not be allowed to divide us as a people and as a nation.”

Prime Minister Mottley also spoke to respecting the decisions of persons stating that even without her own family, there are persons who have chosen not to take the vaccine because they believe in alternative medicine. Mottley added that the government would intentionally have consultations with the public to address any concerns or reservations about the vaccines.

Instead of mandating that public health workers take the COVID-19 vaccine, Mottley has opted to discuss the matter with all healthcare professionals. “You have a right to ensure that in our healthcare facilities, people are protected. I believe that the doctors live by the motto, do no harm, and to that extent, I want to go myself starting Monday afternoon to the healthcare institutions in our country. I am happy that our public health nurses are told that vaccinations are just under 80%. In other words, 8 out of 10 of our public health nurses are vaccinated, but we do have some issues still in our hospitals that require us to move the numbers up some more. I want to come and hear you directly, and I pledge to do that almost every day.” Prime Minister Mottley stated.

Togetherness and an all of society approach are critical towards combatting the negative effects of COVID-19.

Liz Myke

Liz Myke

Reporter

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