No free ride for the unvaccinated, says Holness

September 16, 2021
Prime Minister Andrew Holness making his presentation on COVID-19 in Parliament on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness making his presentation on COVID-19 in Parliament on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given the clearest indication yet that his Government, at some point, will make it mandatory for persons to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, Holness said that the push to get people vaccinated "will evolve into a system where we will have to have differential treatment for persons who are vaccinated versus persons who are not".

Jamaica has set a target of vaccinating 65 per cent of the population by next March. Holness as well as the chief medical officer have said that the target will have to be increased.

Holness noted that there are European countries that have instituted measures requiring persons to show their vaccination cards to access services or to enter establishments such as nightclubs, offices and restaurants.

"There will, eventually, as we progress through this pandemic and increase the level of vaccination, it can't be that I do my national duty and get vaccinated to protect myself, my family, my community and my country, and someone who shirks their responsibility and duties, sometimes for no genuine reason other than pure ignorance and malicious intent, gets to go by on a free ride. Every citizen has to bear some responsibility and has a duty to get our society out of this crisis.

In Jamaica, as of Tuesday, 686,829 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Some 208,169 per cent of the population (seven per cent) is fully vaccinated.

"We still have a long way to go," said Holness who told fellow legislators that Jamaica's COVID-19 numbers are "dangerously high".

Clinicians have said that the vaccines are essential in reducing the potential for serious illness or even death from COVID-19. A staggering 21 deaths were recorded on Tuesday, taking the country's tally since the start of the pandemic to 1,757.

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