Barbadians appear to have mixed views about whether unvaccinated workers in the private sector should have to pay for their own COVID-19 tests.
Following a heated debate on social media on the weekend, regarding employees paying for tests to prove their COVID-19 status if they have not taken the vaccine, Barbados TODAY took to the streets to get the public’s views.
Those interviewed also spoke against any move to make the vaccine mandatory.
Retired government worker Leon Whittaker said paying for the test should be a shared responsibility between the employer and employee.
“I believe the private sector, in their quest to maintain that standard of business, … should be called upon to share in the responsibility of the test. The private sector should be the ones taking the lead in making sure that cost is taken care of,” the 72-year-old Whittaker said.
“How much, I don’t know but there should be a protocol established with the union so that they would be aware of their role as an employer and the employee should then be aware of their role.”
Whittaker said while he agreed that certain categories of workers should willingly take the vaccine, others should be given the option of regular testing.
He pointed to developments on the international stage that point to the world heading towards a situation of mandatory vaccination, but said he did not agree with that approach.
John Walcott also expressed the view that the cost of COVID-19 testing should be split between the boss and the worker.
He said while there may be some value to the vaccine being made mandatory, it could create some challenges.
Walcott said: “It is a matter of people having enough information so they will make an informed decision. But making it mandatory as it is right now is against the law and you will cause some problems. And I guess the main thing right now is that years ago vaccines were available but we would have had a lot of years in the preparation, but this one came so quickly and people are apprehensive, so you got to respect that.”
Meanwhile, a young man who gave his name only as Jherad, contended that there is no need for the COVID-19 vaccine once a person’s body does not require it. He said he made a personal choice not to take any vaccine, and he simply does what is needed to keep his body healthy.
One woman, who requested to be referred to as Andre, said somebody must pay the price for the COVID-19 testing and she believes the burden should not be on the Government’s shoulders, as taxpayers will feel the pinch of an already hefty health care bill that is being compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So I have no issue with people having to pay for their tests. I don’t have an issue with it at all,” she said.
As to whether taking the vaccine should be made mandatory, she added: “The vaccine does not prevent you from getting ill, it prevents you from being seriously ill. So, I guess people will be hesitant about taking it because they are saying taking it will not prevent you from getting COVID. So, I don’t feel it should be mandatory, it is a personal decision.”
Eileen Roberts agreed that taking the COVID- 19 vaccine should remain an individual’s choice.
She argued that not all medication is for everyone, which she said may be the case with the COVID- 19 vaccine.
“So people should have an option to take it or don’t take it,” she said.
Roberts added that Government should foot the cost for COVID-19 tests, including for unvaccinated workers whose bosses may make it mandatory for them to show negative results in order to keep their jobs.
“Even though people may be working, people still have bills to pay, and then with COVID, people’s pockets start leaking already. The Government has the responsibility already so they could continue to keep the responsibility,” she insisted. (AH)