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Union Leaders Share Their Thoughts on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Frontline workers have one week left to get vaccinated before August 1 or produce a negative PCR or rapid test every two weeks. This is according to Statutory Instrument seventy-four. All phases of the government’s vaccination campaign are open which has led to a spike in the number of person vaccinated. The pressure is on frontline workers including public officers and teachers to be vaccinated. Three union leaders have yet to be vaccinated. One of them is President of National Trade Union Congress of Belize Luis Martinez.

Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Hipolito I am excited to take my first vaccination. I was supposed to get that done this week but time ran up on me and I am excited to take my first dose. As leaders we have an obligation to lead by example.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: So you’re getting vaccinated two weeks, a week and a half.

Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Tell me where Love FM will be so they can catch it on camera.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love News: I will attend but I’m saying you’ll do it before the August first deadline. 

Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Well I’m not and that’s it right there. I don’t want anybody get it twisted that Brother Luke is going to be vaccinated because of August first is nearing. Absolutely not, I am fully aware of the heath crisis and certainly all of us want for this health crisis to come to an end.”

Another union leader who has not been vaccinated is PSU President Dean Flowers. Flowers says he will get the jab next week and is encouraging public officers to get vaccinated.

Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “As a public officer I have not been vaccinated but as the president of the Public Service Union and as an institution that the Public Service Union is we encourage public officers to get vaccinated and for those who have fear about the vaccine to kindly review the literature that we have shared on our Facebook page, the literature that is out there and to try to inform themselves to reduce those fears because the fears are real. I had those fears, I am not without those fears and now I can publicly say as I have said last week while I made another television appearance  that Dean Flowers will be receiving his vaccination. I proceed on vacation on Monday and during that on which I’m on vacation I will be receiving my vaccination.”

Leader of the Belize National Teachers’ Union Senator Elena Smith has also not been vaccinated. Smith pointed out that while sixty percent of teachers have received the jab. Smith says she is still battling her fears of needles.

Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “A lot of people have taken this matter with me not getting my jab as yet for mischief and so every time they put out their news item they put it in a way, in a negative way to make it seem as if though ‘oh well she’s the president and so she be leading by example.’ I said earlier that our teachers  we have over 60% of our teachers having got the vaccination. If it were that our teachers were making that decision based on my decision we would not be at over 60%. When I am comfortable enough then I will do it. I have never said that I am against it or that I don’t want to take the jab. I have always said I have a fear and people who have fear of things will understand that you have to get to that place where okay you know I am at the point where okay I can do it so I will do it. That is my position, nothing is wrong with that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a person having a fear or something. People are afraid of clowns, they’re afraid of thunder, they’re afraid of balloons all sorts of things. I am afraid of needles what is wrong with that and so when I get to that place where I feel that I am prepared enough and I can do that then I will do it because I know it’s important, I understand the implications it’s not that I don’t it’s just that I have not yet garnered enough courage to go and do what I know I should do and that is the difference. There’s a difference between a person who is anti and somebody who really and truly is preparing him or herself for that moment.”