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By Orville Williams

While it remains to be seen whether an imminent Covid-19 vaccine will be made mandatory in Antigua and Barbuda and for whom, physician Dr Courtney Lewis is predicting that some pressure will be applied on persons who operate in certain sectors, to take the vaccine.

Attempting to calm some of the understandable apprehensions among residents, Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph declared last month that Covid-19 vaccines will be optional for residents, and also urged them to ensure they have accurate information with which to make their decision.

Despite that assurance, questions continue to be asked about how the vaccine will be treated, whether it will become another of the vaccines used in regular newborn immunizations, or used similar to the seasonal flu vaccine.

Dr Lewis, though, said mandatory or not, he is predicting that some persons will essentially be ‘cornered’ into taking the vaccine.

“I do think and I can foresee that quite a few companies — especially schools, companies that work with first line healthcare, companies that work in travel and tourism — I can see those companies really, if not making it outright mandatory, putting a lot of pressure on their workers, their employees, their affiliates [and] partners to push this vaccine.

“Because, of course, everyone wants to get back to business as usual and I think that’s one of the biggest pushes for the making of a vaccine; it’s that everybody wants their lives back, what they’re used to,” Dr Lewis said.

He added that, for some companies it would mean even more than just going back to normal, but to also prevent any future liabilities.

“It’s an issue of liability as well, because most companies, they’re not going to want to have their clientele or their employees hold them liable for anything that happens to them, for them to conduct business as usual. One of the better ways to protect themselves against that is to make sure that everyone that’s involved in their business is protected, is inoculated, is vaccinated. That may be where most of the pressure eventually comes from.”

Dr Lewis is currently preparing to launch an online series aimed at tackling medical misconceptions within the Antigua and Barbuda population.

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