COVID vaccine will never be mandatory – PM Holness

3 years ago

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Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says despite some degree of reluctance and hesitancy by a number or persons to being vaccinated against the COVID-19, the Government is not considering making it mandatory.

While noting that this is “not unheard of”, citing legislation in the case of children, he said it is not, in principle, the policy or posture of the Government.

 “It is more about engaging the public to get every single Jamaican to appreciate how important it is to get vaccinated,” Holness added. 

He was speaking during a recent edition of the ‘All Access with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ interview series, being facilitated with senior journalists.

Holness used the opportunity to again, encourage all Jamaicans to take the vaccine.

 “The vaccine is critical for the return to normalcy, the return to the path of growth and the [full] reopening of the economy [especially for] external trade [and] tourism,” Holness said.

He contended that reluctance to taking the COVID-19 vaccine “should not be high” in Jamaica, noting that “unlike other countries, we have a very strong history of vaccination”.

The Prime Minister cited nationwide vaccination programmes undertaken in the past, particularly in schools, “when public health [personnel] would come… and administer the vaccines and we [students] would all participate”.

‘Because of that, we largely eliminated certain diseases from our populations… and we are the better off for it,” he pointed out, noting that the same approach should be taken to the COVID-19 vaccines”.

Holness expressed concern that while some persons across the society are consuming misinformation that could potentially influence them not to take the vaccine, other countries are “moving very quickly” to inoculate their populations.

In so doing, he pointed out, “they will be ready to return to business” quickly.

He said that in the United States, where the vaccination programme is far advanced, the authorities are projecting that they will be ready by July.

Additionally, Mr Holness said the authorities in Canada and several European nations have indicated that by then, their inoculation programmes would have reached the stage that better positons the country to gradually resume pre-COVID-19 engagements.

“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. What would happen if the world returns [to normal] and we are not ready? What would happen is that the world will pass us by and our economic condition will worsen,” the Prime Minister emphasised.

In light of this, Mr. Holness said it was in the interest of every Jamaican that they get vaccinated against COVID-19, “and I’m [again] urging every single Jamaican to consider taking the vaccine”.

He is urging citizens, in the meantime, to continue to adhere to the safeguards such as wearing masks in public, thoroughly washing and sanitising hands, abiding by quarantine stipulations, and staying at home if ill.