Residents are considering recent comments by Prime Minister Gaston Browne as the first move to making vaccination mandatory in Antigua and Barbuda.
During Saturday’s outing on his affiliated radio station, Browne hinted that bar operators must avail themselves of the vaccine in order to continue operating their businesses.
Browne admitted that the requirement might be excessively harsh, but said it is necessary to protect the rest of the population.
He reiterated sentiments expressed, last week, by Information Minister Melford Nicholas, who said that bars pose a greater risk for transmission of the virus because of how patrons mingle there.
However, some people are expressing outrage at the Prime Minister’s suggestion. A Villa man says this is just the first move before he announces that everyone has to take the vaccine.
“He has shared a video of [his] St. Kitts and Nevis colleague, Timothy Harris, saying they will have to check their laws and Constitution to see if they can make the vaccination mandatory,” the man says.
“I knew this was a hint. He really wants to force his agenda on people,” the man adds.
Another man notes that, earlier, bars were being blamed for the spread; however, despite their being closed for some time now, COVID-19 cases continued to rise.
He complains that bar operators are being forced to take the jab as though they, themselves, are spreaders of the virus.
What needs to be done, he says, is ensure that bars are given guidelines by which they should operate. If these are breached, then the operators should face the consequences and have their establishments closed for a period, the man advises.
He also recommends that frequent checks be done at these establishments by the Police and officers from the [Central Board of Health).
Another resident accuses Browne of trying to sneak his vaccination agenda on the people, when it should be their right to choose.
She notes that the vaccine does not protect a person from contracting the virus, or even from spreading it; so she questions the reason behind the Government’s push for the people to take it.
According to the woman, she has read a report which claims that persons may have to get vaccinated every year.
“I am confused,” she says. “We get the vaccine and can still get the virus, and now have to get it yearly? What is really going on in this world today?” she asks.
REAL News confirmed that such discussions are, in fact, going on in the United States, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci – the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President – said he expects data on a third vaccination, a booster, by the end of summer 2021.
While bars may remain closed for some time, Nicholas has said that consideration will be given to reopening gyms. This, however, would follow consultation between operators and officials of the Ministries of Health and Sports.