The rollout of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is now truly on the way and by all indications, the response by the people of Antigua and Barbuda has been impressive.
Members of the country’s Executive led by example and were followed by members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament. What is heartening is that the usual partisan political bickering was put aside for the national good. It is a clear indication that this is a fight that has no political, racial, ethnic, age, or gender bias. COVID-19 affects all and it therefore requires a unified response for this dreaded disease to be defeated.
From the very onset, we at PointeXpress have been relentless in encouraging the general public to look beyond the brouhaha and the tantrums being displayed on social and conventional media. There were vociferous protestations regarding vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular, and some were given popular platforms to spread misinformation, lies, and innuendos. It was a sad day when one of the principals of a media house attempted to justify its facilitation of the spread of misinformation in the name of free speech. The idea that everyone who has an idea should be heard has to have some limits, lest it leads to our downfall. For example, good reader, would you permit someone on a radio station that you operate who is instructing others how to construct bombs?
What is being demonstrated by the impressive response of the general public to the call to take the vaccine is something we at PointeXpress have always suspected: there is a minority section within our country, a very small section, who have very big mouths and they use any and every means necessary to get their voices heard. However, the overwhelming response to the vaccine proves that Antiguans and Barbudans have no appetite to buy into this kind of base rhetoric to our own detriment. The people of Antigua and Barbuda should collectively pat themselves on the back. It is stinging repudiation of anti-intellectualism.
To illustrate this point, one only has to look at the photos and videos of the different centres where the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered. In addition, numbers do not lie. On Tuesday alone, the number of persons who were administered the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab was nearly two thousand. Impressive! This is excellent news as it says that the country is well on the way to achieving herd immunity and this will allow for the reopening of the country’s economy, particularly the heartbeat tourism industry.
We accept that there are certain challenges since the roll-out of the vaccine started, and this was to be expected. As time goes by, the kinks will be ironed out and we can guarantee that the programme will run smoothly and efficiently. We have every confidence in the professionals within the Ministry of Health who ought to be commended for their hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
What is necessary now is that the early momentum that the vaccination programme has witness must be seized. As the Latin expression goes, “Carpe diem!” Seize the day! We cannot allow complacency to set in and lose that momentum since the important task has only just started. As a nation, we have to be relentless with the messaging, and ABS Television and Radio must be commended for the number and frequency of infomercials regarding COVID-19.
Again, we say in the vein of the noted Roman poet Horace, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.” Seize today, do not trust tomorrow. The idea is that today is the best day to do anything as tomorrow is never promised. Therefore, use today to register if you have not done so as yet. Register all in your household who are eighteen years and older. Call your neighbour and tell them to get registered. Call your friend in the other village and tell them that the time is right to get registered. Do not wait a minute more.
It is with a sense of duty and pride that we at PointeXpress say to the nation: Carpe diem!