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Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister responsible for Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy presents Carol Forbes with a Self-Help grant at the Calder Hall Multi-purpose Centre, Calder Hall Road, Scarborough, Tobago, yesterday.

Members of Parliament for Tobago East and Tobago West, Ayanna Webster-Roy and Shamfa Cudjoe said yesterday that unvaccinated Tobagonians stand in the way of the island’s progress.

The fully MPs, who are also Government Ministers, were speaking at a National Commission for Self Help Limited (NCSHL) grant ceremony at the Calder Hall Community Multi-Purpose Community Centre, where 75 families received $1.25 million.

Webster-Roy said islanders must change their mindset about vaccinations, be responsible, and get the vaccine to allow different sectors of the economy to reopen.

“I have been going out there encouraging persons, telling them that for us to open back our economy, get our children back out to school, we have to be responsible,” the Minister responsible for Gender and Child Affairs, Ecclesiastical Affairs and Central Administrative Services, Tobago, said.

She added: “Being responsible means putting aside your fears for a bit and seriously considering taking the vaccine. If it is a health reason and you receive advice not to, then we can work with that.”

She continued: “But when you’re telling me when I come to you in your space that COVID ain’t real and you want to vex with me when I tell you don’t come to me within six feet without your mask…you have to understand that you are putting the entire island at risk.”

“Most importantly, the economy that we want to see developing and thriving in Tobago…we are the ones responsible if Tobago does not build back better,” Webster -Roy added.

Cudjoe, the line minister for the National Self-Help program, also encouraged islanders to get vaccinated.

“The safety and security that you seek in your home doesn’t start and end with you preparing that extra room just in case of somebody gets COVID…there is much more that we ought to do here in Tobago,” Cudjoe said.

She added, “You have people who are (vaccine) hesitant. Some of us are overestimating our immune systems. Some people are saying to us God is my vaccine. Yes, we trust in God and look to God for help and support, but we also have to remember that God helps those who help themselves.”

She continued: “You have a right to protect your health. You also have a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of you and your family. My advice to you is to get vaccinated.”

The Sports and Community Development Minister also said islanders should be honest about their COVID status and isolate when necessary to prevent spreading the disease.

“These people who are supposed to be at home on quarantine, who are out there moving about and putting other people at risk. COVID is not your basic cold, and for you to get up and go out there knowing very well you have COVID, coming and interact with people is selfish. I can say it is even wicked.”

She said staff at her constituency office had to recently quarantine because a COVID-positive person broke quarantine and visited their hamper distribution drive.