Prime Minister Andrew Holness has cautioned that unvaccinated people should not expect the government to prioritize bed spaces for them in hospitals if they contract COVID-19 in the future.
He also emphasized that once the island has achieved a sufficient level of COVID-19 immunization, personal “responsibility” will be critical if virus protection procedures are loosened.
“Once it reaches that level (of vaccination), we can open up again and return to some degree of normalcy, and then the responsibility transfers to the individual,” Holness said on Thursday during a vaccination visit in St Mary.
“At that point, if you don’t want to receive the vaccination, that’s your business,” he said, “but don’t expect the government to take a bed away from someone who needs surgery and put that bed into COVID care.”
“It is your decision and duty at that moment. There is no freedom without accountability, therefore those who teach free will must recognize that they are not free of duty “He continued.
Holness informed people of the north-eastern parish that vaccines offered Jamaica the best chance of escaping the COVID-19 epidemic.
“At some point in time, we have to transition out of this epidemic, and in order to do so… we need to bring immunization up to a level where we protect (the) vulnerable in society,” he explained.
While saying that the immunization travels were effective, the prime minister stated, “It will come to a point when my traveling and encouraging will cease, because there is only so much of that that I and the country can do.”
Furthermore, he stated that immunization against COVID-19 would spread to other parts of life, including travel, requiring more people to get the shot.
“Eventually, those who want to travel, (and) those who want to do other things, will realize that it is not the Government of Jamaica that will impose such things, but the nations that they wish to visit,” Holness said.
“Many of those nations state you’ll have to provide proof of immunization.”
“So you’re going to realize that it’s not just traveling, but… other things as well – to return to school, for example, and indeed, you can broaden it to life in general,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister stated that limitations on certain areas of the economy, particularly entertainment, cannot be maintained continuously and must be eased at some point in the future.
However, he emphasized that, in the meantime, COVID-19 preventive efforts must be maintained until the bulk of the population has been immunized.
“… And how do we bring it down? When all of the partygoers have been immunized. When are we going to be able to open up? When all churchgoers have been immunized. When are we going to be able to open up? When all cab drivers are vaccinated, (and) when everyone in society is immunized… That is our goal “He stated.