The organisation representing public transport owners and drivers says it will be launching a major COVID-19 vaccine education campaign today aimed at influencing more of its members to take the jab, given low uptake in the sector.
According to Egeton Newman, president of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services, the campaign will seek to debunk the many myths promoted about the vaccine by players in the industry.
He said that approximately 70 per cent of the sector — more than 35,000 drivers of public passenger vehicles, to include buses and taxis, and over 32,000 owners of these vehicles — are giving negative responses to the vaccine.
“I am strongly calling on all public transport sector members in Jamaica to think about their livelihoods, their family, the passengers, and get vaccinated. We launch a major transport operators vaccination education campaign today. Our objective is to get at least 65 per cent of the sector vaccinated over the next four months. We believe this is important to the survival of the economy but more so the public transport sector that is suffering immensely right now,” Newman said.
He said that many of the industry players who continue to refuse the vaccines repeatedly endanger their family and appealed to their good sense, to get vaccinated. He shared that he has received one dose of the vaccine and will be inviting the media on September 26 when he goes for his second dose to prove to his colleagues that he is fully vaccinated, as he feels that action will motivate others to do the same.
“Some of them will go if they see that Newman take it. There are all sorts of theories about vaccines and COVID. Some of them just don't believe. They are saying, 'We don't want the vaccine' and we are saying they should. If not, it is going to be worse on the sector,” Newman insisted.
“We are doing our thing by having some creative projects out there, starting tonight and see what can be done to get them vaccinated,” Newman said.
Bus driver Lebert Todd told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he believed that the people who criticise the vaccines to the point that they refuse, are the ones causing problems for others who take the vaccines.
“My view about the vaccine is that it is a good thing and ought to be taken. I took it. The questions being asked about what is in it are invalid, because all the medications people take all the time, they don't know what is in it. I have a friend who lives in the United States and she told me that they sent her to take seven vaccines when she was about to leave and she never even asked a thing because she was just so glad to go to America and she is alive and well right now. A lot of people in my sector have all sorts of criticisms but a lot of them I know to be fake news. Most of them don't have the facts,” Todd said.
Taxi driver Arthur Stennett said he was sceptical about the vaccines but did his research and was satisfied that he did the right thing by becoming fully vaccinated.
“Vaccines are like a bulletproof vest; you will get shot but it won't kill you. I don't even like to hear them talk bad about the vaccines because none of them have proof. All they do is talk rubbish. Most of the times when they start talk, I walk away from them. I am good so far and I am fully vaxxed,” Stennett told the Observer.
“My son and my wife took theirs. My wife is a teacher and my son is an athlete and he will be flying out on a scholarship. My wife has to take it because she is a teacher and could be going back into the classroom any time soon,” he added.