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In jab at unvaccinated, Tufton backs preferential treatment

Published:Friday | July 30, 2021 | 12:13 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton is asserting that persons who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 cannot expect to be treated similarly to those who are inoculated against the virus, for which 52,504 infections have been recorded in Jamaica since the outbreak last March.

“There is going to come a point, once COVID-19 remains a threat, where persons who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated will go through separate terms of engagement or protocols based on the risk they pose to others. It is a logical and fundamental principle,” Tufton said on Thursday while addressing his latest COVID-19 Conversations press briefing.

The health minister was speaking against the background of resistance from Jamaica’s teachers over Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ recent declaration that instructors who are vaccinated against COVID-19 may receive preferential treatment compared to non-compliant colleagues.

But in commenting on the issue, Tufton said that to give equal treatment to vaccinated and unvaccinated persons would mean putting persons at greater risk for COVID-19 spread.

“You cannot have a society where a clear and present danger is represented by a virus which can claim your life or the lives of others, and you treat persons who observe the protocols to include taking the vaccine, and you expect those who do not do so to be given the exact same treatment. What you are doing is undermining the entire process and putting persons at risk,” said Tufton.

The minister’s comments came ahead of Friday’s anticipated arrival of 300,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from the United Kingdom, with distribution to commence on Saturday. The Ministry of Health aims to administer 150,000 doses within the first week of its upcoming inoculation programme.

Jamaica is expected to receive 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for distribution by the end of September.