Jamaica’s main Opposition People's National Party (PNP) says it is against a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for Jamaica at this time.
PNP President, Mark Golding said it is clear that a large percentage of Jamaicans are still hesitant about taking the COVID-19 shot. He advised that it would be more practical if the government offers some incentives to residents who are vaccinated.
“Our position is that, with over 70 per cent of the population polling as being against mandatory vaccination, we don’t think it’s practical or right to try and implement mandatory vaccination. That means coercing people to be vaccinated who do not believe it is the right thing to do.
“We strongly believe that vaccination is the right thing to do. I am vaccinated, the entire Shadow Cabinet is vaccinated and we have encouraged everyone to get vaccinated,” Golding said while speaking at a press conference at his offices on Monday.
“I think that (incentivise) might help people to make up their minds as well. I believe that the approach that has been taken between the various employer groups and the joint trade union confederation, to work out the procedures to be followed at the workplace, in relation to vaccination.
“A risk-based approach with due process is the correct approach but I am not in favour of mandatory vaccination,” the PNP leader said.
Mark Golding also pointed out that neither the vaccine manufacturers nor the Jamaican government provides indemnity to residents should they develop adverse side effects from the vaccine. He said that the government should not impose a strict vaccine policy on Jamaicans unless it is prepared to take responsibility for residents who may develop serious side effects.
“There is no indemnification offered by the Government or the manufacturers of the vaccine. How are you going to mandate somebody that they must take a vaccine if you're not prepared to stand behind them if they get sick or otherwise suffer an adverse reaction? I don't see that as possible,” Golding insisted.
The PNP's position on the issue of mandatory vaccinations comes at a time when the calls for a national mandate have been growing louder, with several groups, including the Private Sector Organisation urging the government to begin instituting vaccine requirements.