There are signs that some segments of the community are becoming restive over the issue of mandatory vaccinations.
A protest is being organised for this Saturday afternoon outside the Governor’s House opposing what the organisers see as a violation of human rights.
Under the banner of ‘Freedom of Choice’ the organisers, Vaccine ChoiceCayman and Christian.KYSupport, say they are taking a stand ‘for civil servants, work permit holders, permanent residents, for Caymaninans, for chidlren…for everyone!’
This weekend’s planned action comes as the question of compulsory vaccinations increasingly takes centre stage globally in the continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
In the United States President Joe Biden has taken the controversial decision to demand vaccination mandates for 100 million workers - about two-thirds of the American labour force.
Compulsory vaccination requirements are already been instituted in some states with thousands of New York health workers at risk of losing their jobs for refusing to be vaccinated.
The British government has launched a consultation looking into the feasibility of requiring that workers in adult care homes in England and, potentially, frontline NHS staff, be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Care home employees will be required to have had two doses of coronavirus vaccine, unless exempt, from November.
That plan is already being opposed by unions.
Around 3,000 healthcare and care home workers across France have been suspended for failing to comply with mandatory Covid vaccination. In the Netherlands and some other European countries, a vaccine certificate is being required as a condition of entry to bars, restaurants, nightclubs, sports and entertainment venues.
The ‘no-jab-no job’ approach policy is also a major issue in some Caribbean countries. In Antigua and Barbuda which has been rocked by a spike with 30 deaths this month alone due to the virus, the government has made it law that all civil servants must be vaccinated. The decision is being challenged in court by the country’s main trade union.
Here in Cayman, the issue was thrown into the spotlight with a recent announcement from Hon. Deputy Governor Frans Manderson, that compulsory vaccinations for the civil service and frontline workers is being considered, although no firm decision has been taken on whether or not to go through with it.
“As a caring employer, we want to do everything we can to protect our own staff. We have staff voicing concern about working on the front line with un-vaccinated, staff members, and we have staff members on the front line who say they will not get vaccinated,” Mr Manderson outlined during a government press conference.
He also pledged that before any final decision is taken on the issue that he would “meet with them department to department,” adding that, “I'm going to keep my word.”
The Deputy Governor had further explained that “one of the things that we are doing now is to join the government in looking at developing legislation which would require government workers on contracts to be to be vaccinated as well.”
However, he acknowledged that “this is an ongoing issue and is not easy.”
Mr Manderson said he’d already been contacted by a number of civil servants who confirmed to him that they were going to get vaccinated and her appealed to others to also take the jab.
“Our commitment is to continue to encourage civil servants and others to take the vaccine. It is the best thing to fight against COVID, and I am very concerned, very concerned as head of the civil service that was I was on the front line at Travel Cayman and not all of them are vaccinated.”
He said his greatest fear as head of the civil service is that he would have to attend the funeral of a civil servant.
“I would never want to do that. So I'm asking all the civil servants to get vaccinated and do not put me in that position.”
But much of that seems to have failed to sway others who are against any talk of a vaccine mandate.
The organisers of this weekend’s protest are calling on like-minded people to join what they say will be a peaceful protest ‘to stand for your human rights’.