Vaccine hypocrisy – the pnc Leader and the Opposition Leader are silent on vaccination

As of today, more than 44,000 Guyanese have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. By the end of this week, we expect that about 80,000 Guyanese would have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is a strong response to the spiralling COVID-19 epidemic in Guyana. As much as this is a strong response, and as much as the Ministry of Health deserves high praise for an effective vaccine campaign so far, clearly, there is a visible vaccine hesitancy.
The vaccination programme as of this time has targeted persons 40 years and older. More than 5,000 persons who are less than 40 years old have received their first dose of the vaccine, because they are frontline health workers. But there are almost 200,000 persons 40 years and over. It means that still less than 50% of those aged 40 and over have come forward to receive their vaccine.
The President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, other Ministers and Members of Parliament from the PPP have been relentless in their promotion of the COVID-19 vaccines. The lone MP from the Joinder Party – ANUG, TCM and LJP – has also taken his vaccine, and has urged people to take their vaccines. The Speaker of the National Assembly has done so too.
The leadership of the PPP and all the newer political parties that contested the March 2020 General and Regional Elections have come forward and encouraged people to take their vaccines. Private Sector leaders have also aggressively been promoting the COVID-19 vaccines. Various faith leaders have joined the call to our Guyanese sisters and brothers to get their vaccines.
But there is a screaming, screeching silence among certain political leaders, who are refusing to promote the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The Leader of the PNC and of APNU, David Granger, has been irresponsibly silent on the vaccine campaign. Mr. Granger is MIA, missing in action, much like when he was President. When he was President, in times of trouble or crisis, he was always MIA. Today, David Granger is silent at a time when every responsible Guyanese leader should be out front urging our Guyanese sisters and brothers to take their COVID-19 vaccines.
Mr. Granger certainly has nothing against the COVID-19 vaccine. It is publicly known that he took his vaccine. It is vexing, therefore, that he would adopt a posture of silence. He has said not a word of encouragement. It is not about helping the Government, it is about a responsibility and an obligation Mr. Granger has as the leader of the second largest political party in the country. Even if he does not care about every Guyanese citizen, he ought to care for his own supporters. The time has come for Mr. Granger to call on his supporters to take the vaccines that are available.
It is now public speculation whether Joe Harmon has taken his vaccine. If he has not taken his vaccine, he is being a poster child for recklessness. At the very least, he is letting down his supporters. The MOH team hosted a dedicated vaccination session for MPs, and I know that most of the MPs were there to take their vaccines. I know other leaders of the PNC and the AFC and the one-man parties that belong to APNU+AFC have taken their vaccines. But they are silent about the vaccination programme. The ugly silence is a disservice to their own supporters. It is an abrogation of the Leader of the Opposition’s responsibility. It is irresponsible for all those MPs from the Opposition APNU+AFC to remain silent. Their silence is not just ugly, it is reckless.
To his credit, the former Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, showed up among the present Opposition MPs for his vaccine, and did meekly mention that he hoped Guyanese take the vaccine. Nagamootoo took time after that to write a long epistle defending APNU+AFC’s obnoxious attempt to thief the March 2020 elections. But he has gone silent on the COVID-19 vaccine. His AFC colleagues, Khemraj Ramjattan, Raphael Trotman and others, have taken the vaccine.
They, too, have decided that silence is their preferred position. If the vaccine is good enough for them, why is the vaccine not good enough for their Guyanese sisters and brothers, both those who support them and those who do not support them. The silence of the Opposition leaders and their MPs, even after they took the COVID-19 vaccine, is reckless, and I have no hesitation in calling out their hypocrisy.
Presently, Guyana has enough vaccines to vaccinate 81,000 Guyanese with their first dose and 61,000 with their second dose. In the coming weeks, Guyana would receive enough vaccines to vaccinate another 150,000 Guyanese citizens. By the middle of May, the MOH is hopeful that at least 250,000 Guyanese would have received at least one dose of vaccine, of which more than 20,000 would have also received their second dose. It is incumbent on all political leaders to play a role in the successful rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccines. Political leaders who choose silence at this critical time are abrogating their responsibility to the people of Guyana. They must be held accountable for this ugly silence.