Vaccines will not be mandatory but those refusing could be paid differently, warns HolnessTuesday, July 27, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— Despite growing hesitancy worldwide and relatively low take-up by Jamaica's essential workers so far, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has sought to assure that his Government will not make it mandatory for Jamaicans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, with the push to reopen schools, which have been shuttered for the past 16 months, teachers who are unvaccinated could be in for different treatment than their vaccinated colleagues, Holness warned on Monday.
Among other things, they could be subjected to COVID-19 testing to ensure they are coronavirus-free. The prime minister also hinted that unvaccinated teachers could be remunerated differently from their vaccinated colleagues although he said discussions are to be held with the teachers, most likely through the Jamaica Teachers Association.
“We are not going to make it (vaccine) mandatory for them, but at the same time we would have to consider that teachers who are vaccinated who turn up to work that they are treated in some preferential way and those who don't turn up to work, we may have to ask them to be tested, and we may have to be considering what should happen regarding how they are remunerated,” Holness said as he responded to questions from journalists during a Jamaica House press conference.
He used the press conference to announce a retightening of the COVID protocols that were relaxed in June as the country has, in recent days, been experiencing a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases.
Holness warned that the measures could be tightened further on August 11 when they are up for review as the aim of the Government is to ensure schools are reopened in September.
Hundreds of thousands of students have not had face-to-face classes since March 13, 2020 when classrooms shuttered. That was three days after Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19. Since then the country has confirmed more than 52,000 cases and over 178 deaths.
Meanwhile, massive demonstrations have been staged in countries like France where that government is enacting legislation that will make it mandatory for citizens to be vaccinated in order to access certain services.
Some states in the United States of America are moving to make it mandatory for healthcare and other essential workers to take the vaccine. In some instances, unvaccinated workers have been told that will have to do regular COVID-19 tests at their own expense.
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