Guyana can gain much from a period of intensive public education about vaccines and pandemics

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Dear Editor,

At this moment of misunderstanding in Guyana about a matter as vital as life and death, it seems to me important that we should all try to do what we can.  In writing this letter, I will aim at fairness, because I know that over 90% of my fellow Guyanese want to be fair.  That is something I think we all have in common.

The last time I asked a simple question about the withdrawal of a case against an official, a columnist, using a pen name, called me an interesting fellow, stated my age and said, “he has race on the brain.”  In spite of that response from one I know to be highly educated, or rather schooled, above my level, I may have to pose a few questions.
From what I hear on radio from Guyana, there is strong feeling not against vaccines, but against being compelled directly or indirectly to take them. This feeling against what appears to be compulsion is present in every human society reported in the news.

If we are public figures, we need to cultivate the self-respect and respect for others that would allow us to admit blunders and rely on the fairness and commonsense of most Guyanese.  As it appears to me now, the flash point of disagreement in Guyana is around the question of how to encourage more and more members of the population to choose vaccines as an emergency safeguard when the bulk of the population is unvaccinated against the present virus and its variance, like Delta.
News source reported on or about August 25, 2021 that the Government of Barbados had arranged a national consultation on the question of mandatory vaccination.  It also reported that the Prime Minister, Ms. Mottley, had declared that her Government did not favour mandatory vaccination.  She also said that it was the duty of the Government not only to keep the country safe, but also to keep it united.  We do not know what the future holds, but the approach in Barbados seems likely to avoid the clashes like those on the Wismar/McKenzie Bridge and those in Georgetown near the Ministry of Education.

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In Guyana, there is no news of a planned period of consultation between the Government and citizens affected by its management of the pandemic.  Unfortunately, a basic right, like freedom of assembly, has been reported as breached by police action.
The political culture at work in Barbados in approaching differences may owe its quality to the fact that the Prime Minister is a woman, and one who has not lost respect for her fellow citizens and their rights.  Reports from Guyana suggests that the society can gain much from a period of intensive public education about vaccines and pandemics and from a period of what is called in Barbados “National Consultation.”  Please note that this is not a request for power sharing, but simply a request to adopt best practices and to follow the spirit of the Constitution.

Yours respectfully,
Eusi Kwayana



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