Photo: Courtesy of jirkaejc
Following the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on September 14, 2021, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley reiterated in a virtual press conference that she does not support a mandatory vaccination program for Barbados. While Mottley has strongly encouraged Barbadians to get vaccinated if they are able and has worked to reach those who are ambivalent or have medical concerns about the vaccine (barbadosloopnews.com), she stated, "I personally do not like the notion of mandatory vaccines; I don't" (thecaribbeannewsnow.com).
Mottley explained that because some people will never get vaccinated for various reasons, such as medical conditions, religious beliefs, and/or philosophical positions, the Barbadian government has made COVID-19 tests freely available to everyone. Mottley supports the idea of using a combined approach of vaccinations and testing "to ensure that those who have been vaccinated are not unfortunately restricted or removed from being able to pursue their living, and at the same time, those who are not vaccinated are not excluded from participation in a society across an island that is only 166 square miles" (thecaribbeannewsnow.com).
The Prime Minister denounced any attempts to divide the country, warning that divisions would not end with the COVID-19 pandemic but would endure for generations (thecaribbeannewsnow.com). In Mottley's own words, "We believe that vaccinations, while not 100 percent foolproof have the kind of probability that allows us to protect persons from death and from serious hospitalization. And, that while you will get breakthrough cases occasionally, the breakthrough cases, thus far, have not led to any form of death at all in Barbados. By the same token, we recognize that just because a person is not vaccinated does not mean that they are positive, and the best measurement of that is, in fact, with the test. And to that extent, therefore, testing must continue. With the exception of persons traveling overseas, we've said testing will remain freely available in Barbados" (thecaribbeannewsnow.com).