PM doubles down on opposition to vaccine mandates

The Prime Minister insisted Sunday that moving to mandatory vaccinations would undermine Barbados’ social capital even as she stressed that Government would redouble its efforts this week to coax more Barbadians to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.Two weeks after setting a target of 10,000 vaccinations per week, Government has fallen short with figures for last week showing that just under 6,000 people received their first doses. The first week saw only 6,500 jabs delivered.But Mottley told a COVID-19 update at llaro court that the situation would be far worse had not it been for the vaccination drive, while suggesting that at least 1,500 vaccinations per day would be a step in the right direction.

She pointed out that while the COVID-19 dashboard shows the vaccination rate hovering around 39 per cent of the overall population, the vaccination rate is well over half the proportion of those currently eligible for the jab.The PM said: “If you take toddlers to 12-year-olds out of the equation, we are already at about 57/58  per cent of the persons who are eligible to take the vaccine taking it.“What does that mean? That more than five in ten, almost six in every ten Barbadians who can take it are taking it.

We don’t expect to get ten out of ten, but we do need to push a little harder and we do need to see if we can get beyond that line of at least 70-75 per cent of those eligible which then would allow us to look at the rest of the population separately.

“Why? Because without that we are going to continue to be challenged to ensure that more Barbadians can come back  to work, we will continue to be challenged in terms of people’s movement, we will continue to be challenged in terms of the economic performance that we need in order to be able to protect those that are most vulnerable.”But despite a wave of infections that have overwhelmed the public health care system, the Prime Minister remained adamant that Government would not move to make mandatory vaccinations in the face of growing calls for a review of its position.She said: “We have one major national social asset and that’s called social capital.“If we try to divide this country rather than taking the long road and trying to persuade people and talk people through things then we will find that we may well end up destroying the social capital that has been very much the foundation for our modern success. At this point in time, therefore, we are working doubly and trebly harder to have those conversations sectorally and geographically.

”Mottley said the country must close the vaccination gap and appealed to Barbadians to reflect on this.Declaring the “waiting game” was over, she again stressed that achieving herd immunity would return to the country to a level of normalcy.She said: “The waiting game is really now not on your side, too many people have said I waiting, I waiting, but what are we waiting on. The truth is that we have seen that persons who have professed to be waiting are now finding themselves, in some instances fighting for their lives.“I believe that as we go into this week that I ask Barbadians to reflect on where we are. 

Let us also remember that it is not something that is only affecting older people. On average every day between one quarter and one-fifth of the people who are catching COVID, who are COVID-positive, are now under the age of 18 years old. This is nothing to play with.“We will get to a point where some level of normalcy can come back and where many of those who lost their jobs in the last 20 months can begin to contemplate the reality of working again.“