Social Activist Winston Clarke is seeking an audience with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley to discuss putting measures in place to protect those who cannot take the COVID-19 vaccine for health or religious reasons.
Today, Clarke submitted a petition highlighting issues at the fore for those people who decline to take the vaccine on the grounds of colour, health, religion and ethics to the Prime Minister’s Bay Street, St Michael office.
“I would love her to respond as soon as possible because we are noting that they are saying that they are not condoning employers intimidating their workers, but they still are not coming out and talking against it and to me that is just as good as concurring. We would like to hear her and speak to her,” he said.
“We want to be able to exercise our rights and some of us are doing it for religious reasons, some of us are doing it for ethical reasons, some of us like me are doing it for health reasons. I cannot take a vaccine. I cannot even drink coffee because of health reasons.”
Clarke, who is heading the steering committee of persons who do not wish to take the vaccine said those who have signed the petition are neither anti-vaccine nor anti-government in anyway. Rather, they are pro-choice.
He said people living in Barbados who do not want to take the vaccine wish to ensure their integrity, autonomy and security, by asking that legislation be put in place to assure them that their human right will be protected.
“We are seeing what is going on in other countries and we want to pre-empt that here in Barbados. What is happening is when you refuse to be vaccinated, they are trying to intimidate you by threatening you in regards to work and you can’t travel and that is a constitutional violation,” he said.
Clarke, who spent the past few months gathering signatures for the petition, said it was important that the message is made clear that it is a person’s right through informed consent to refuse medical treatment, not to face discrimination, prejudice, victimization, ostracism or to be refused access because of their stance.
He said Barbadians also want equality and self-support during lockdowns and transparency and the right to vote on and form opinions before legislation is passed on issues that pertain to them.
Clarke said: “We want that when there are lockdowns that the same way larger corporations are allowed to open that the small person who works on a day-to-day basis and earns money daily, that they are able to work and support their families just like anybody else. I know for a fact that a lot of businesses had to close down. I know of people with shops that had to close because of merchandise problems. I know of a lot of people who are on the breadline right now and have to go to welfare.”
The petition has garnered 3000 online and paper signatures and is gaining momentum, Clarke added.