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Mr. PUP Politician: October 1st may be too rash, phase in the need for vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to enter public buildings and spaces

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Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2021. 7:58 pm CST.

By Hugh O’Brien: Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat recently informed the nation that effective October 1st. 2021, the Government of Belize will implement a policy that requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter public buildings, including shops, banks, government offices etc. and to use public transport, including buses and water taxis. The implementation of this policy is well intended but it has caused loud resistance from those who refuse to get vaccinated arguing that the government is trampling on their rights and freedom of choice.

The government’s decision to require vaccination cards or negative COVID-19 test to enter public spaces is facing harsh social lash backs even though it is intended to introduce tighter controls to encourage vaccinations or to implement programs to reward the vaccinated. In addition, and as of today, only 15 days remain for citizens of Belize to try and get vaccinated. Is it realistic for us to vaccinate a large majority of our population by this date? Me seh no, it’s not realistic!!!

The question to ask the PUP government and our leaders, especially in light of the ongoing resistance: Is this decision too rash and too soon? Rather than setting October 1st, 2021, as a deadline, is a phased approach more practical, especially as more and more people, including those 12-18 years old, are getting vaccinated?

The phased approach suggestions am making to the PUP government and leaders include, but is not limited to, as follows:

1. Continue to require full vaccination to enter casinos and call centers;

2. On October 1st require full vaccination to go to church, enter restaurants and bars;

3. On October 1st, allocate a period say from 7-10 am that non-vaccinated individuals can travel on buses and enter pharmacies, shops and grocery stores etc. to purchase items. Outside of those hours, un-vaccinated individuals can be disallowed from entering these establishments;

4. Set a realistic date, like January 1st, 2022 to target 80% vaccination for all citizens 12 years and over;

5. Intensify the public relations and vaccination campaign up to the end of the year to encourage vaccinations;

The intent of the above recommendations is to reward the vaccinated, and begin to put limits on, but not totally restrict, the un-vaccinated.

It is now evident that the government will never be able to force vaccinations on the large number of anti-vaxers or those who are against vaccinations. However, once we get 80% or more of our people vaccinated, then the un-vaccinated will not matter as much as there will be a certain extent of herd immunity, and our healthcare system will be able to handle the mostly un-vaccinated and the limited number of vaccinated who will end up in our hospitals.

Finally, mostly un-vaccinated will continue to die from COVID-19 and eventually the message will be received by a large majority of the population. This will lead to more and more people being convinced that taking the vaccine is one of the most important measure to use to try to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under some level of control.

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