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Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal gets his COVID-19 vaccination at the Marabella Health Centre on April 24.

“Get on board.”

Whether people get vaccinated or not is their personal business, but if T&T has to get out of its current hole and vaccinations are the ticket, then Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley needs to lead the public with encouragement by talking to people not at them, United National Congress deputy leader Jearlean John opined yesterday.

Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal also accused Rowley and his Government of promoting “vaccine hesitancy.”

John was responding when asked whether she’d taken a COVID vaccine and what advice the UNC was giving supporters on this. John reiterated that the UNC had been urging the public to get vaccinated for months.

Apart from many UNC supporters taking the vaccine in T&T, Guardian Media also independently confirmed that some who were unable to get vaccines since April despite going to several health centres, eventually went overseas and obtained the Pfizer vaccines in the US.

John said people will have their personal reasons to get vaccinated, as well as not get vaccinated, but if T&T is following the science and this is what the science dictates, then people need to get vaccinated. But she said at the same time, Rowley and his Government could not simply dismiss religious, medical, cultural or other grounds people may also have.

“You are the leader, you have to be willing to hear people, find out why and you have to encourage people to take their vaccines. People are looking for leadership. You have to talk to the people, not at them and you have to be sincere, come off your high horse, bouffing people and talking about who you block and who not.”

Referring to Rowley’s recent statements about “blocking” someone who kept calling him with suggestions, John added, “Talking about ‘blocking’ isn’t relevant to acting with urgency the situation needs! (Person’s name called) is a medical practitioner with 40 years’ experience. If we have to do this together we need everybody on board, you have to be open and sincere.

“This isn’t an easy time for T&T, but this is the time for the Prime Minister to be his brother’s keeper and to be a leader he says he is. People voted for his party twice, stand up for them properly now. And sound like it.’’

Moonilal, who got his vaccine on April 24, said he’s repeatedly called on constituents to take the vaccine.

“Any vaccine, stay alive…even if you don’t like the vaccine. But Government’s attitude is promoting vaccine hesitancy,” he said.

“I tell people to stay alive, take any vaccine approved by WHO. I’ve always told people I can take a third booster shot, but they have to start the process by taking their vaccines.’’

Asked about whether the entire Cabinet had been vaccinated yesterday, Communication Minister Symon de Nobrega yesterday said, “I cannot think of anyone from the Government’s side in Parliament that wasn’t vaccinated.

“As far as advice goes, this virus has no care for political views, religion, ethnicity or how much money in the bank you have. What we do know, is that regardless of any of those things, the only way we defeat it is by getting vaccinated. We’ve seen this around the world. What we’re experiencing here is no different to anywhere else. Data shows that vaccination has proven to be effective globally in protecting not only by greatly reducing the likelihood of contracting the virus, but even more importantly, dying from it.”

He added, “Unfortunately, there’s a secondary global pandemic that in many ways is just as dangerous as the virus or any of its variants, the pandemic of misinformation.

“Instead of advice, I’d like to make a request to a few groups of citizens. To those who’ve taken the vaccine, become champions for vaccination. Share your experiences and why you took it. Doing that might be the reason someone else makes the decision to get vaccinated as well.

“To those willing to be vaccinated but haven’t as yet for whatever reason, go get it now. We need to get as many people protected as quickly as possible to get us all back to the things we all once took for granted. To those who have fears about the vaccines or getting vaccinated, we need you. Speak and listen to people who are qualified to advise you on what’s true and what isn’t and who can directly address what your concern may be.”

“And to those purposefully sharing misinformation, stop. You are costing people their livelihoods and their lives.”