Anti-Vax Protests Reach French Caribbean

People in Guadeloupe march during a national day of protest against the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for certain workers and the mandatory use of the health pass called for by the French government in Capesterre-Belle-Eau, on the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe, on August 7, 2021. (Photo by CEDRIC KISHAM/AFP via Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY., Mon. Aug. 9, 2021: People in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe on Sunday marched during a National Day Of Protest against the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for certain workers and the mandatory use of the health pass called for by the French government.

Protesters carried signs that read “Respect My Body – Don’t Force Me To Be Vaccinated;” “No, No And No, We Are Not Guinea Pigs. We Do Not Vaccinate Under Duress. No, No One, No Power, No Law Will Deprive Us, Will Dismiss Us For The Vaccine;” and “We Are No Longer Under The Whips Of The Executioner. We Do Not Want An Apartheid In Guadeloupe.” Other signs read: “Means And Treatments To Care And Support – Individual Freedom Face To RNA-Based Clinical Trials;” “Freedom” and “Leave Us In Peace.”

The news comes as France’s health minister on Sunday appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the overseas territories of Guadalupe and Martinique as a wave of COVID-19 infections overwhelms hospitals on the two Caribbean islands.

There are over 21,000 active COVID-19 cases in Guadeloupe and over 22,000 in Martinique as the French Caribbean see a new spike in cases. French Guiana has over 20,000 active cases.

France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran said the first medical staff would fly out on Tuesday, as health authorities race to administer COVID-19 shots but come up against a deep-rooted culture of vaccine-hesitancy.

Only 21% of the populations of Guadalupe and Martinique have received a first dose of a vaccine, according to the independent COVIDTracker website citing Aug. 5 data, compared with two thirds of all French people having received one dose and 55% being fully vaccinated.

Hospitals on the islands are buckling under pressure with intensive care bed occupancy on Martinique alone at 200% of normal capacity.

In an appeal launched on social media, Veran said Martinique and Guadalupe were facing “an intense wave of infections” that was hitting a population where vaccination levels were too low.

Today, mainland France will extend its health pass scheme to include bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as long distance trains, to help contain a fourth wave of infections.

The anti-vax protests began in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on July 5th and expanded to Antigua & Barbuda Sunday.