Government has no intention of forcing persons to get vaccinated, but will continue with its responsibility to educate citizens.
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw emphasised this point on Monday evening as she addressed the third town hall meeting, where persons gathered at the Deighton Griffith School and online to share their views on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.
Ms. Bradshaw told her audience: “There’s no intention to hold anyone down and place the injection in their arms. But what we have a responsibility to do, is to educate…. We have a responsibility, certainly, to put the information out there into the public domain, so people have the opportunity to be able to freely choose what they wish to do.”
She noted that globally, some people were contracting COVID-19 and the numbers were increasing. She indicated, for example, that New Zealand has had to close its borders because of increasing cases, while some countries in this region were recording more cases.
She continued: “What we all know is that if something is not done, that these things are going to impact us in a major way. It’s going to impact our healthcare system; it is going to impact our social services, and it’s going to simply impact our way of life as well.”
Barbados recently received over 70,000 Pfizer vaccines from the U.S. Government and Ms. Bradshaw said this donation would widen people’s vaccine choice.
“Our intention certainly is to give Barbadians choices…. The opportunity to choose which type of vaccine they may want as well and I can say to you that…the vaccination team has certainly been working to roll out the plan in relation to not just the vaccines that are here, but certainly other vaccines that are being donated to Barbados, and certainly the ones that we are purchasing as well,” she explained.
During the question and answer session, acting Attorney General Wilfred Abrahams stressed that Government had no policy in relation to mandatory COVID-19 vaccines or mandatory testing at this point.
Mr. Abrahams stated: “We are here to…hear from as wide a cross section as possible…. It is only from hearing from as wide a cross section as possible, can a representative Government make policies or take steps that embrace the considerations of the populace generally, as opposed to one particular segment….
“So, our process as a responsible Government – we heard what the private sector said at the beginning. Yes, everybody heard it, … and the Prime Minister indicated, you know what, let us talk; let us hear everybody and let us decide the way forward. And that’s what we’re actually trying to do.”
Meanwhile, with regard to a question about immunising children, acting Prime Minister Bradshaw insisted that parents would be consulted.
“As Minister of Education, …there is no way that we would be going to vaccinate children in this country without consultation, as we did with the teachers,” she stressed.
The final town hall meeting will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, August 18, at Combermere School, Waterford, St. Michael, beginning at 5:00 p.m.