Mandatory vaccination will not solve the problemMonday, August 02, 2021
BY MARSHA THOMAS
I was dumb-founded a few days ago when the minister of health declared his wish for the taking of the COVID-19 vaccine to be mandatory in Jamaica.
I thought to myself, surely, he misspoke, especially when he referenced France, which is now experiencing huge protests over the proposed mandatory vaccine passport system. I was considering how the minister of health would implement such a policy and I, therefore, have to thank the prime minister for providing much-needed clarity.
Based on what the prime minister recently said, “a carrot-and-stick” approach will be used to ensure compliance, and the first target will be teachers. Teachers are being told that the vaccinated among them will receive “preferential treatment”. May we ask: What is this preferential treatment being spoken of? There also seems to be some consideration regarding teachers' remuneration.
While the Government is fine-tuning its focus on teachers, it must be noted that AstraZeneca, the vaccine of choice in Jamaica, has not received emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); hence, it cannot be used in the USA.
If my understanding of the situation is correct, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is trying to coerce teachers into taking a vaccine that is not approved by the FDA. This is wrong on so many levels . One's basic human rights are now being impacted, because people have a right to determine what medication goes into their bodies.
We are also being told that teachers who refuse to take the vaccine might be asked to take a COVID-19 test. Is this really legal? Perhaps the GOJ has not yet heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that laboratories stop using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to test for COVID-19 as the test cannot distinguish between influenza and the novel coronavirus; hence, the number of false-positive results.
The CDC will withdraw its emergency use authorisation of the PCR tests by December of this year. Also, the Ministry of Health needs to state whether it recognises natural immunity. Will teachers who have been infected with the coronavirus and recovered still be forced to take the vaccine?
It is known that the manufacturers of the vaccine will not accept liability if there is an adverse reaction. When the Government pushes the public sector to take the vaccine and someone is negatively impacted, can a claim be made on the Government? I think the Government needs to get its attorney general to examine these matters before it pushes ahead with this plan.
If the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) does not stand with the teachers on this issue, then, the teachers should withdraw its support — stop paying dues — to that organisation.
We have a very splintered and ineffective Opposition party. These dictatorial utterances are being made but, at the time of writing this letter, the People's National Party (PNP) has not responded. Who knows? Perhaps the PNP is in agreement with the sorry manner in which our nation's best and brightest are being targeted.
On a connected matter, the GOJ should not be allowed to scapegoat any industry or spin its way out of the current COVID-19 debacle.
Three weeks ago when the Government decided to open the country, some of us asked about the medical plan to accompany this and there was a deafening silence. Some Jamaicans who desired to take the vaccine could not get it. Others wanted to follow the advice of some of Jamaica's most prominent local doctors, such as Dr Charles Royes, Dr Alfred Dawes, Dr Michael Abrahams, and Dr Michael Banbury, who were supportive of Ivermectin, but the Government did not give its permission, at that time, to bring in the drug.
The decision to open the country and economy without a medical plan was highly suspect. What did they expect? I am not a medical professional, but I knew that there would have been an increase in case numbers. It should be noted that there were people who dutifully followed all the protocols, but still became infected with the virus.
The medical response by the GOJ to managing the novel coronavirus pandemic in the last month has been ineffective and is, therefore, in need of urgent review.
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