Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring the nation that the Government has no plans to make coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination mandatory.
“As it stands now, and we have discussed it in Cabinet, the Government is not thinking about, nor inclined to mandate any vaccines. In fact, we don’t believe that is something that would meet the constitutional test,” he said.
The Prime Minister, who was addressing a virtual press conference on Monday (April 9), noted, however, that the objective of the Government is to ensure that approved vaccines are widely available to Jamaicans.
“We have ensured that whenever vaccines are available in Jamaica, [they] meet the highest standards of approval and we have not brought in any vaccines unless they were first of all World Health Organization (WHO) approved,” he said.
Mr. Holness argued that while other countries got started with their vaccination programmes ahead of Jamaica, “because they took certain decisions,” the Government decided to wait in the best interest of the people of Jamaica.
“We waited because we understood the high level of suspicion about vaccines in our country. So when we go to the public to say ‘take the vaccines’, we are confident that we are giving you the best vaccines that are available,” the Prime Minister said.
He again encouraged Jamaicans to take the vaccine once it becomes available to them, reasoning that “I can stand here with confidence, having taken the vaccine myself, to recommend it”.
The Prime Minister said the Government will now be shifting the focus of its public education campaign, to introduce an islandwide roadshow which he will be leading. It will involve him going directly into communities explaining to persons how the vaccine works and how they can access it.
“I am going to be hitting the road. I am going to go into the nooks and crannies…I will go about asking you to preserve your lives and livelihoods and to encourage you to take the vaccine,” he said.