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Vaccine drive ‘key to recovery’

Vaccine drive ‘key to recovery’
Dr Justin Robinson (FILE)

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A robust vaccination programme will be vital if Barbados is to accomplish economic recovery, an expert in the field said yesterday.

Professor Justin Robinson, the chief executive officer of the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management, said tourism was the linchpin of economic growth but COVID-19 was a major obstacle.

“The economy is far from rebounding from the impact of COVID-19. A lot will depend on the next six months, which will be driven heavily by what type of winter tourist season we have. There’s a real risk if we don’t have an improvement in the COVID-19 situation, it will be a major problem for the 2021 tourism season and we can’t afford that.

“Whether we achieve growth depends on what happens with the pandemic. Are we going to have a third wave? How effective are the vaccines? What percentage of our population is vaccinated? I think the effectiveness of vaccinations is going to be a critical factor, and I think it’s important Government, civil society and all the players embark on an aggressive campaign to persuade Barbadians to be vaccinated,” he said.

Robinson said attempting to implement mandatory vaccinations would most likely not go over well, so a way had to be found to impart to the public the importance of vaccination without forcing the issue.

“I’m no expert on this but I sense a mandatory vaccine initiative could backfire and generate a level of civil disagreement that may be problematic – I have that fear – so I would want Government and civil society to instead persuade persons that vaccines are our best tool against the pandemic, along with social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitising,” he said.

Robinson added that he understood higher numbers of unvaccinated people could result in greater risk of variants emerging, which in turn would make the current vaccines less effective.

“People being comfortable enough to carry on their normal lives is critical to economic recovery, and for me personally I am beginning to come around to a view that maybe COVID-19 is going to be something we have to learn to live with and maybe we need to get that message out more.” (CA)