The United Progressive Party (UPP) categorically rejects the Gaston Browne Administration’s imposition of mandatory vaccination on the nationals, citizens and residents of Antigua & Barbuda – particularly since this decision was taken without consultation.
The Party is concerned – like all right-thinking persons – about the frightening spike in COVID-19 infections and the recent number of related deaths. Accordingly, it welcomed the invitation extended by the Prime Minister to collaborate with other organizations and devise policies to meet the challenges.
Ironically, the date for that consultation is today, September 16.
However, the release of the Government’s new and totalitarian policy – well ahead of the consultation – leaves no room for any other voice or proposal and excludes the input of civil society completely.
The UPP has said, and it reiterates, that it does not support what many describe as “forced vaccination.” It has recommended an intensive, personal, persuasive campaign that is spearheaded and championed by the medical fraternity, and it continues to do so.
The Government’s policy is punitive, bullying, and fails to recognize the hardships – economic, social, and mental – it is imposing on a population already battered by the COVID-19 fallout.
Nowhere in its missive is there even the hint of assistance for businesses or families; no new or expanded social programmes; no alternative methods that residents – the fearful and the doubtful – can employ until they are persuaded to accept inoculation. Nothing but threats and intimidation of the local population.
Even as we recognize the scientific need to get to herd immunity and the obligation to protect health, lives and livelihoods, the United Progressive Party cannot and will not support this dictatorial approach. The end, noble as it might seem, does not justify these means.
Democracy demands that The People – or at least representatives of all The People – are afforded a seat at the decision-making table.