ANTIGUA: Prisoners told to take COVID-19 vaccine or else

(Antigua News Room) – Prisoners who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine will have to undergo frequent testing for the coronavirus.

The typical method for taking the test involves a health professional inserting a nasopharyngeal swab into the patient’s nostril. A procedure, which many people find very uncomfortable.

“It’s going to be one or the other,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas said at the Cabinet media briefing on Thursday.

 “The global treatment, really, where persons have resisted to taking vaccines is not to try and force it upon them but then to put them through a regime of continuous testing”, he said.

The Minister said while the government might also explore educating the inmates on the benefits of the vaccine, where “vaccines become an issue where people almost have a religious objection or any other kind of objection to taking vaccines, then short of the government making it a compulsion, which we’re not prepared to do, the only other prescription left to us is to ensure that those persons are tested frequently such that they do not inadvertently infect the rest of the healthy population.”

Last week, the prison management reported 176 inmates had refused to take the vaccine.

Earlier in March, the government transferred over 30 inmates to an isolation center at Crabbs peninsular after they tested positive for the coronavirus.

The authorities also said that they would test new inmates before mixing them with others and assured there was now a quarantine unit in the prison to separate prisoners awaiting their test results.

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