The New Today

Commentary

NDC’s position on COVID-19 vaccination

The NDC repeats its before stated position that it encourages widespread vaccination, recognizing that this is essential to help us to safely return to normalcy in all areas of our social endeavours and in reviving the economy.

We value our people and insist that in all things, their wellbeing must be put first, above all else and certainly above individual and private interests.

The anxiety of government to have the tourism and education sectors functioning again is shared with the NDC. We also again urge government that the pandemic presents a golden opportunity to diversify our economy into other areas such as: agribusiness, information technology services and light manufacturing.

With the tourism and education sectors returning to full operation, it is expected that the chances of Covid-19 getting into the wider community will be increased, as more people will be entering our shores. In that regard, it is the added responsibility of government to keep our borders as sanitized as possible, and therefore, our people safe.

For our part as a people, it is our responsibility to get vaccinated, thereby reducing the chances of getting very sick from the virus if we come into contact with it and reducing the likelihood of spreading it to others.

Despite our position above, the NDC remains very concerned about the unclear and mixed messages coming from the government in relation to the need for people to be vaccinated and in particular, in relation to the question of forced vaccination, whether direct or indirect.

We fully agree with the Prime Minister that it will be wrong, and indeed a violation of people’s rights, to force anyone to vaccinate. We say that this is true whether people are forced directly or indirectly.

For any employer to say to existing employees that they must be vaccinated in order to retain their jobs, is to force that employee to get vaccinated or lose his or her job. We understand the Prime Minister to be saying that he does not have a problem with employers demanding that employees be vaccinated.

Mr. Prime Minister, you can’t have it both ways. You are sending mixed messages. You must state very clearly what government’s position is and stop playing games.

We recommend that government considers arranging for the people to have vaccine options in an effort to increase inoculations.

The NDC also recommends that the Ministry of Health co-opt the help of the medical, legal, business and civil society communities to educate people on the advantages of getting vaccinated. The fact is, because Health Minister Steele has been largely defensive and arrogant when legitimate concerns are raised and the Prime Minister has been talking out of all sides of his mouth, the people do not trust the government.

That is why, NDC calls for the inclusion of these groups in the public education campaign. We also once again, call for a genuinely inclusive and broad based national grouping to fight and overcome the pandemic. As we indicated since March 2020, the NDC stands ready and willing to be part of this national effort.

(The above was submitted by the main opposition National Democratic Congress)