Police Commissioner Gary Griffith (2nd from right) meets with members of the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association (TTPA) including TTPA president Jerome ‘Rome’ Precilla (third from left), TTPA advocate Paige De Leon (2nd from left) and treasurer Derek Douragh (left). Also present were Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ag), Joanne Archie (hidden) and Head—Legal Unit of the TTPS, Christian Chandler.

The Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association believes that Trini-born sensation Nicki Minaj’s now controversial COVID- 19 vaccine claims could hurt this country’s entertainers and the industry.

“Be cautious, Nicki – with great influence comes great responsibility,” said TTPA head Jerome “Rome” Precilla yesterday.

The “Anaconda” singer was stung by a backlash of criticism after saying on Twitter that she was doing her own research about the vaccine. But it was her claim that her cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine because his friend got it and “became impotent” leaving him with swollen testicles that provoked passionate responses.

Minaj, who has 22 million Twitter followers, was slammed for spreading vaccine hesitancy with her claims by numerous people including UK chief health adviser Dr Chris Whitty, Dr Anthony Fauci, journalist and former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan and a slew of others.

Yesterday, a source close to Minaj’s family members in Trinidad declined to comment on the issue.

The TTPA, which represents event promoters and artistes, said it is concerned about the impact her statements will have on the industry. Many local entertainers have gotten vaccinated and some have been able to work overseas.

Precilla said, ”On behalf of all, as much as we’re proud of Nicki flying T&T’s flag and being a cultural ambassador, we’re asking that she be more cautious in statements as this is a very, very touchy time for T&T in trying to encourage people to be vaccinated.”

“Our entire entertainment industry is pegged on the fact of the number of people to be vaccinated. It can’t reopen unless people are vaccinated. Her words could hurt T&T and fellow entertainers’ ‘bread and butter’. People have already been affected badly by lockdowns. Please be cautious – it could damage Trinbagonians,“ Precilla urged.

Meanwhile, Communication Minister Symon De Nobrega expressed disappointment with the rapper’s comments.

“I was obviously very disappointed to see (Minaj’s) comment. What would be more disappointing would be if people took her comments as more credible than those of hard-working doctors, nurses, scientists and others who’ve continuously provided fact-based evidence that vaccines are safe, work and are our best tool in the global pandemic fight.“

“I was heartened to see pushback from so many right -thinking people who rightly debunked her conspiracy theory-laced stance. I applaud those lending voices to the on-going effort to get our population vaccinated,” he said.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell also added his voice to the conversation, offering advice.

“Forget ole talk and distractions about, ‘I did hear a cousin, friend, aunty, sister, nephew had an adverse reaction to vaccination’. Heed the advice of the Ministry’s medical professionals or seek your doctor’s advice if you have doubts.’’

He said the full reopening of the travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors are particularly dependent on vaccination.