Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies, Reverend Howard Gregory, has urged the Government to embrace mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, as part of national interest.
The Archbishop made the call in an article titled “Leadership and the Pursuit of the Common Good,” in light of the continued vaccine hesitancy, the high COVID-19 infection and death rate in the country.
He also noted that there is a likelihood of dumping vaccines because of the expiration of their recommended life.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton disclosed earlier this week that a significant portion of 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca might have to be discarded if shots are not taken by the September 30 deadline.
“These are not normal times when every individual can choose to play by their own rules while untold suffering and loss of lives, wellbeing, the ability to conduct one’s daily life and the return to vibrancy in the economy are at stake. We are in a critical time which requires unusual action; and the good of the whole must count at some point,” the Archbishop noted.
“It seems clear that the government, through the leadership, must do what leaders do in times of a crisis and take decisive action,” he said.
Archbishop Gregory, who is also Bishop of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, said that while there are differing views related to human rights and the law concerning mandatory vaccines, there are sufficient legal luminaries who have pointed to the appropriateness of such action.
He argued that while mandatory vaccination does not involve physically restraining persons, the Government has a responsibility to protect citizens from infection by requiring proof of vaccination from public sector workers, as well as their customers.
”Employers in various sectors should also have the discretion to determine the working environment they wish to promote for the well-being of their staff and the public they serve,” he said.
Gregory believes that it is “reprehensible” that some employees in some areas of the hospitality industry are required to be immunised, while there is not a similar provision for the wider society.
He also criticised Jamaicans who indicated they would take the vaccine if and when this was required for them to travel to the United States.
“It is time we assert a greater sense of self-respect and dignity in doing what we know is right and in the public good, rather than await an external agency to enforce what we should do under appropriate national leadership for ourselves,” he said.
The Archbishop, while noting that he is fully vaccinated, repeated his appeal for all Jamaicans, and Christians in particular, to take the vaccine as an expression of their duty to care for themselves and their responsibility to their fellow Jamaicans.
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