The Human Resource Professionals of Antigua and Barbuda (HRPAB) has come out against the mandatory-vaccination position being taken by some employers, even as it encourages workers to take the jab to protect the country’s economy.

In a press release, the Association says it “is not in agreement with employers mandating vaccination as a condition of continued employment and still believes that taking vaccines ought to be an individual choice.”

Still, the body recognizes that, for some industries, achieving herd immunity is critical to their business operations.

“The retail and banking sectors come to mind. A successful vaccination campaign will be critical, as well, to the hospitality industry to appease visitors and tourists and to keep workers and their families safe,” the statement says.

However, the body is advocating for an education campaign.  It “believes that persons must be educated and informed as much as possible on what the vaccine is; how it is expected to work in the body to offer protection against the virus; and the possible adverse effects and risks of taking the vaccine.”

The Association recognizes that there are real fears and concerns about the vaccine’s ingredients; the relative speed of its development; its usage-approval process; and the absence of a choice of drug.

Accordingly, it says that every voice must be heard and these concerns must be addressed.   In this regard, it says, “We continue to applaud the work of the local health workers and how they have been trying to address the public’s concerns.”

But the Association is also mindful that mischievous and unfounded arguments about the vaccination programme are being made.

The Government continues to urge persons to be inoculated as part of the effort to return the country to normalcy.  And the Association says it understands this position, since the more persons get back to work, the better the chance that the economy will thrive.

However, it does not support the vaccine issue being politicized.  Rather, it suggests that all groups use their influence to help residents to understand vaccines and make an educated decision.

So far, over 33,000 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The Government is hoping that 70,000 people will be vaccinated before the end of the summer in order to reach herd immunity.

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