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Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is encouraging eligible participants in the Youth Summer Employment Programme (YSEP) to get vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage others to do the same.

“I want to challenge you because I know at least 90 per cent of you are over 18 [years old]. You are now eligible to be vaccinated and I am using this platform to encourage you to encourage your friends, to encourage your family to get vaccinated. Protect your lives and protect the lives of those around you,” the Minister said.

He noted that placement in the programme is not hinged on vaccination status.

Minister McKenzie was addressing the recent launch of the YSEP at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland on July 30.

The programme, which is in its fifth year, will employ 6,000 youth between August 9 and September 3 in various agencies of the Local Government Ministry and the municipal corporations.

A selection of participants will also be working with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to carry out vaccine sensitisation.

The Minister noted that when young people engage in activities, such as partying irresponsibly, they put vulnerable persons such as parents, grand-parents, and the wider community at risk.

Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, who was the guest speaker at the launch, also urged the young people to get vaccinated.

“Every opportunity you are given in this programme is important. [You are] in a place where you are now asked again to do something very important, which is going out there and getting vaccinated from these 300,000 doses of vaccine [recently donated by the United Kingdom government],” she said.

“Part of your summer employment programme, once Minister [McKenzie] assigns you, is to go out very hard, encouraging everybody else [to do the same]. Wear your mask, social distance… and get yourself vaccinated. Others have done it. They have led by example, and it is our time to do so,” Mrs. Holness stressed.

YSEP began in 2017 as an initiative of Minister McKenzie. Since its inception, approximately 21,000 youth between the ages of 17 and 24 have benefited from summer work.

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