No space for detractors
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (right) in discussion with Diane Scott, CEO ofJamaica Medical Cannabis Company group, in one of the ministry's mobile vaccination buses atSavanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital last week. Looking on (from second left) are Norman Horne ofArc Manufacturing and Arc Properties Ltd; custos of Westmoreland, Hartley Perrin; and George Wright,Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)
Tufton says critics won't paralyse Government's COVID-19 response

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says he has never allowed the views of people who are critical of COVID-19 measures implemented by the Government to paralyse his decision-making .

According to Tufton, the approach of the Government in response to COVID-19, by the nature of the virus, will always result in opposing sides. However, he does not allow the views of the opposing sides to prevent him from progressing.

“One of the first things I learned in my two years plus of leading the response on behalf of the Cabinet is that I don't get bogged down with detractors who are critical of what we do. I assess them, and sometimes it might be worthwhile to question and to challenge whether or not we need to pivot or adjust,” Tufton told journalists last week at the handing over of a $35.4-million field hospital at Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland.

“But we also recognised that if we allow alternative views, and sometimes even alternative facts, because of special interest, to dominate our thinking and action, then we will become paralysed in terms of our effort to respond. I have never been paralysed or allowed those thinking to paralyse my decision-making process — me and the team and indeed the Government — otherwise paralysis of analysis becomes the order of the day, and I don't want that. I am guided by the science at all times, and it is the science that dictates how the decision goes and how we pivot around those decisions,” he said.

Tufton was responding to queries from journalists regarding criticism levelled at him for suggesting that the time had come for people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to be frowned upon.

At the handing-over ceremony last Wednesday, Tufton had told journalists that the Cabinet has given favourable consideration to a recommendation to allow the public to attend some upcoming calendar events on proof of vaccination.

“Persons who are vaccinated are the ones who will have access, and now that we have the electronic form of vaccination [verification] we can easily verify or validate using the QR code and the reading of the QR code to determine the vaccination status,” Dr Tufton had said.

“Some people may not like it, because they may think that they are as entitled as those who are vaccinated. But the truth is, as I have said, there comes a time when, probably given the opportunity, having shown the science, and having explained some of the concerns, we cannot really, I think, in fairness, continue to restrict those who have made the effort to take the precaution to protect themselves at the expense of those who have not,” he added.

He also said there was “validity in taking a policy position to say that those who are not vaccinated really should not enjoy, at this time, two years after COVID... and all the responses that we have had and the proof that vaccines are good and effective, denying those who are vaccinated the opportunity to begin to move faster to some sense of normality”.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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