Rastas Opt Out – Warn of “Vaccine Intimidation”

The Rastafarian community in Barbados is casting a wary eye on the government’s vaccination drive and redoubling its support of alternative, plant-based treatments to prevent COVID-19 infection. Paul “Simba” Rock, president and founder of the Barbados- based African Heritage Foundation (AHF)

Paul Simba Rock, president and founder of the Barbados-based African Heritage Foundation (AHF) and public relations officer of the Rastafarian Progressive Movement in Barbados (RPM) said the community is “totally” against vaccines on religious grounds. The Barbados government has declared no one will be forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine. But that hasn’t instilled confidence among the 4,000 Rastafarians who make up about 1.5% of the population. The Rastafarian movement wrote to Prime Minister Mia Mottley requesting that its members be issued certificates of exemption from vaccination requirements.

Jamaica’s COVID-19 Strategy Raises Mistrust Among Rastafarians

Kingston, Jamaica

“I will give you the figure off the top of my head: ZERO!”

That was the reply of a health worker in one of Jamaica’s vaccine sites when asked how many Rastafarians had come to her to get a shot.  But she says she still hopes Rastafari elders will lead the way as Jamaica’s phased vaccine rollout continues. Jamaica received its first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in March, about a year after the virus arrived on the island.  The World Health Organization tracks vaccine distribution on the island. WHO Dashboard for Jamaica

But while Jamaica’s vaccine blitz exceeded the government’s targets with hundreds of people being turned away from vaccine sites, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is still urging every Jamaican to take the vaccine. Prime Minister Holness has gone on record saying vaccinations are critical for reopening the economy. “What would happen to Jamaica if we are considered a country that has not yet reached the threshold of vaccinations to be the destination of travel that we once were?