Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated that she is not for mandatory vaccination of Barbadians.
Speaking today at a virtual press conference, following her participation in the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister stated: “I personally do not like the notion of mandatory vaccines; I don’t. And we had said that we would work as hard as possible to get as many Barbadians … sensitised and I said that I would be the chief one out there trying to do[so], even though I’m not supporting mandatory vaccines.”
Reminding Barbadians that emphasis is also on making testing available where people are unable to take vaccinations, she said Government had always made the point that it would make tests “freely available to people because we know that there are some people who will never be able to be vaccinated because of their medical conditions, and because of their religious or philosophical position”.
While hinting that a meeting with the Social Partnership may soon be coming, Ms. Mottley said: “We are reaching a point where we have to sit with the private sector, public sector and the labour movement to determine how best to use the combined approach of vaccinations and testing to ensure that those who have been vaccinated are not unfortunately restricted or removed from being able to pursue their living, and at the same time, those who are not vaccinated are not excluded from participation in a society across an island that is only 166 square miles.”
She denounced any attempt to be divisive in the country, warning that divisions would not end with the COVID-19 pandemic, but would endure for generations.
Stating that this was her judgement when she served as Attorney-General; Minister of Education, Culture, and now as Prime Minister, she pointed out that it was also the judgement of her Cabinet.
She said: “It is against that backdrop that we anticipate that we will have a framework that meets the needs of all Barbadians to ensure that they can be safe ….What is the public purpose we are trying to serve in terms of this? We want people to be safe and we want people to go into their employment safe, to be serviced by employees safely, and to be able to go around in their leisure time activities safely….
“We believe that vaccinations, while not 100 per cent fool proof have the kind of probability that allows us to protect persons from death and from serious hospitalisation. And, that while you will get break through cases occasionally, the break through cases, thus far, have not led to any form of death at all in Barbados. By the same token, we recognise that just because a person is not vaccinated does not mean that they are positive, and the best measurement of that is in fact with the test. And to that extent, therefore, testing must continue. With the exception of persons travelling overseas, we’ve said testing will remain freely available in Barbados.”
Pointing out that already there was an addition to the number of persons taking vaccines, she said it was just over 6,000, and the expectation was that the numbers would continue to rise.
“Go and look at the dashboard and you will see over 130,000 Barbadians have already had a dose. So against that backdrop the conversation about mandatory, with the kind of acid and division that has taken place in other countries, is not relevant in our own country, and that’s why I say I am so proud, believe you me, to lead a country where the level of social capital and trust is such that we can have the conversations, and people can respond in their best interests,” Ms. Mottley stated.