UWP senator Isaac Baptiste
UWP senator Isaac Baptiste

The Executive of the United Workers Party, as mandated by the Party's General Council calls on the Government of Dominica to immediately cease and desist from the unnecessary practice of requesting COVID-19 vaccine registration at political constituency offices.

The country has worked together in the successful fight against the virus; all stakeholders should take pride in this accomplishment from the Ministry of Health to institutions, business places, churches and most of all, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica. We have complied with the health protocols better than many advanced countries; we all therefore can be justifiably proud that there is only negligible community spread and zero COVID-19 related deaths to date. This is not the time for unequal enforcement of the protocols or to politicize the process; this is a once in a lifetime test and we must continue to pass it.

Civil Society seemingly has stood idly by watching as the party in power has weaponized hurricane relief, housing, fishery and agricultural inputs, scholarships and promotions against citizens of Dominica. It is imperative that confidence is built within the population to get them to accept the vaccination amidst all the hesitancy being experienced across the world, Dominica being no exception. Public confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and people's willingness to get vaccinated depend heavily on the Political context in which the vaccine is distributed; messaging on vaccines is most effective when it comes from medical experts and not Politicians. Politicizing the rolling out of the vaccine in Dominica will create a political divide, mistrust in the rolling out process and therefore defeat the programme's scientific merits.

Let us make this categorically clear that the ministry of health has the historical capacity to serve registration needs for the entire population through our health centers, community nurses and especially now through our new online portals. The UWP therefore calls on the Medical Officials of the Ministry of Health to distance themselves, through a Public Statement, from any and all unauthorized involvement on the issues relating to the administering of the COVID-19 Vaccine being "rolled out" in Dominica.

Nowhere in the civilized world of democratic nations is there any example of using political Constituency Offices for vaccine registration. The last time we checked, Dominica is not a One Party State. We have done well by following best practices, let's move on as One Nation One People committed to fight collaboratively to defeat the COVID-19 virus which seeks to destroy our people.

We urge our health care professionals and Civil Society Organizations to speak out loudly and clearly against this practice of politicizing vaccine distribution and to demand an immediate end to weaponizing a critical national need against political opponents of the ruling party.

At the same time, we encourage Dominicans of all political persuasions to rise above the divide and rule conduct of the Skerrit administration and ensure that they get vaccinated at their preferred vaccination centers at the earliest opportunity, regardless of the disgraceful, unconscionable, vote-catching politicization of vaccine distribution.