Within the last week, there have been two major protests in the Caribbean region against mandatory vaccinations. However, Umar Abdullah, Leader of The First Wave Movement and Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) said his organisation and affiliates have no intention of holding any similar protests locally.

He said the current State of Emergency makes it difficult to hold a similar action, however, they intend to flood social media with short videos to spread their message.

On July 27, the 31st anniversary of the failed coup attempt, Abdullah walked from Morvant to the Red House to raise issues over COVID-19 and government transparency accompanied by Lydon Mack, head of the Trinidad and Tobago Human Rights Voice (TTHRV), Peter Morris, General Secretary of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU), David Muhammad, head of The Nation of Islam and The Black Agenda Project and businessman Gary Aboud.

Last week, protests erupted in St Vincent and the Grenadines against the Public Health Amendment Bill. The bill would mandate certain categories of state employees and state enterprises to take COVID-19 vaccines to work in specified frontline jobs.

It led to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves being hospitalised for injuries sustained after being struck on his head.

Abdullah condemned the action and said the group does not support any violence locally should protests emerge.

“I, as the leader of the First Wave Movement, am not going to tolerate any violence in Trinidad. We’re not going to encourage that. The Prime Minister of the country can walk among the people in this land without any fear,” he said.

He said the group is not opposed to vaccinations but does not agree with what he called any heavy-handed measures to force people to get inoculated.

“We are not telling people do not take the vaccine or take the shots or take the jabs—we are not saying that—all we are saying is give us the opportunity to make that choice…on our own. Don’t force us to do it,” he said.

The notion of government-mandated vaccinations is not under active consideration by Cabinet but Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said if the COVID-19 situation changes, Government could possibly examine mandatory vaccinations.

Days after the St Vincent protest, one erupted in Barbados on Saturday. Cheyne Jones, a reporter at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, told Guardian Media, Barbados hasn’t instituted any laws for mandatory vaccinations like St Vincent but believes the action was a “pre-emptive strike.”

“What we believe the march yesterday (Saturday) to have been is people saying they would not want Barbados to go that route,” he said.