President of the United Workers Party (UWP), Isaac Baptiste, has responded to recent remarks by businessman Karl Nassief in which he called on the opposition in Dominica to make a public statement in support of mandatory vaccination.
In making his case recently, at a Dominica Business Forum (DBF Inc.) for mandatory vaccination in the country, which he claims Dominica’s laws permit, Nassief wanted to know why the country’s leaders, the opposition, the unions, churches and The Dominica Association of Industry & Commerce had not put forward a statement on mandatory vaccinations?
“Are we all being myopic?” the businessman asked?
But Baptiste who spoke during an interview on Q-95 Radio, made it clear that the country’s parliamentary opposition, UWP, is not in support of making vaccination mandatory and advised Nassief to “leave the UWP alone” and instead, take a position on the many issues that are affecting the development and good governance of Dominica.
“Mr. Nassief, let me ask you a question since you pose questions to the United Workers Party in particular, of all the many issues of government that is faced in this country – electoral reform, the issue about the missing hundreds of millions, that the evidence is out there; it is unaccounted for – why haven’t we not heard you make [a] statement about it?” Baptiste asked.
He continued, “If the vaccine is not made mandatory will you close your businesses because you want to protect your employees? Also, if it is not mandatory, will you decide that persons who are coming to your business to shop, if they are not vaccinated, will not be allowed to enter?”
Baptiste said he believes that the position of the unions announced by General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang, is right.
“Let the scientists do their work; don’t make it mandatory,” he stated. “As we go forward, we will know where we are going, but it is not, at this point in time, necessary to make it mandatory because there are ways to avoid getting the virus and this is what we should be concentrating on.”
Furthermore, Baptiste who admitted that he is fully vaccinated, said the UWP has been educating the public speaking on the issue of Covid-19.
“We have been educating the public; we have had many radio programmes and flyers speaking about the vaccine,” he noted. “We do not believe at this point in time it should be mandatory. “
He reiterated his party’s position as previously announced by its political leader, Lennox Linton, to encourage those who want to take the vaccine to do so, but most importantly, he says, the focus right now should be to promote the “various things that have been recommended to be observed to avoid transmitting and getting the virus.”
With only 20,568 people in Dominica having so far received of the COVID-19 vaccine, public appeals by the government and ministry of health officials for more people to take the vaccine, have intensified.
However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has consistently stated that he will not implement compulsory inoculation for COVID-19 and last month, he publicly gave the assurance that his government will not pass any law in parliament to make vaccination mandatory in Dominica.
However, the prime minister believes that everyone has an obligation to each other as “this is a public health emergency and we have to take the vaccine.”