Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, visited the Redemption Faith Church vaccination centre in Calderwood and the Alexandria Community Hospital, both in St. Ann, on Thursday (October 14).
In a subsequent press briefing, Mr. Holness noted that a high level of COVID-19 vaccinations is necessary for the island to return to normal.
“The population needs to have our health status [at a level] where, if we are to have the coronavirus, the probability of a fatal event, or the probability of having to be hospitalised with a serious form of the illness is significantly reduced, and that is why we are promoting vaccination,” the Prime Minister said.
“Eventually, and I am not saying this in a long-term perspective, in the very near future, the Government will change its tact in how we have managed the pandemic,” he noted.
The Prime Minister added, “I am deliberately avoiding the word mandate, because, ultimately, in the minds of some Jamaicans it conjures up an infringement of their rights, and there are those who interpret the word mandate to be compulsory and forced, and somehow the Government is going to hold you down and inject you. This is not the intention of the Government and if there are Jamaicans who have that view, I would like to put those fears to rest,” Mr. Holness said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness noted that during his visit, close to 150 persons were seen at the Alexandria Community Hospital taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He outlined that many of these residents in Alexandria participate in overseas work programmes.
“They are taking their vaccines because many of them have to travel, many of them are on the farm-work programme and the hotel-work programme and they recognise that their health status is critical to their economic status. There are many Jamaicans who do not make that connection, that my ability to [for example], [reopen] my bar fully and have all my customers there is connected to how quickly we all get vaccinated so we can return to normal,” he said.
“They don’t make the connection that the quicker we take the vaccine, the quicker our children can go back to school, and these connections have to be made in the minds of the people so they can dispel the rumour mongers, the traders in falsehoods, and those who would seek to politicise and take advantage of the ignorance of people. We [must] educate the people and encourage them. As we celebrate Heroes Week and Heroes Day coming up, the essence of the struggle of Jamaica is about freedom, and as Prime
Minister of this country I would never do anything that would restrict or take away the freedoms of the people, but freedom comes with responsibility,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
During his visit to the vaccination sites, Mr. Holness spoke with residents and commended them for getting vaccinated.
Also accompanying Mr. Holness on his visit to the vaccination centres was Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Member of Parliament for Southwest St. Ann, Hon. Zavia Mayne.