Mandatory vaccination or periodic testing for all Antiguan government workers

July 22, 2021
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne (contributed photo)

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Antiguan government workers will be required to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested for the virus every two weeks at their own expense.

The vaccination policy was communicated in a memorandum sent to government departments on Wednesday, on the heels of Prime Minister Gaston Browne saying his government was considering the measure.

According to one such memo to the Department of Immigration: “Effective immediately, all officers and auxiliary staff members are duly encouraged to become vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, or subject themselves to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests every 14 days, at personal cost.”

It added that that testing for all unvaccinated staff members would begin 14 days following Monday, July 26.

The immigration officers were reminded that as essential workers they are at heightened risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus and its many variants.

The memo added that Cabinet, therefore, decided on the mandatory vaccination/testing policy “in an effort to protect and maintain the stability of the country’s tourism product; and ensure the continued health of all workers”.

Earlier this week, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst said that while he would excuse workers who are pregnant or might be subject to developing blood clots from taking the vaccine, other civil servants were intent on “being obstinate” and were rejecting the jabs because they were listening to “silly people who are spreading lies and untruths and otherwise trying to dumb us down”.

Responding to a query from President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) Joan Peters about how unvaccinated public servants would finance twice-monthly tests for the virus if the government went ahead with the proposal to demand either vaccines or periodic testing, Hurst advised that people should “take the vaccine and you won’t have that expense”.

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