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Commissioner of Police Says COVID-19 Vaccines are not Mandatory

Between Saturday and today the Ministry of Health has detected forty-eight new cases of Covid-19. The majority of those cases were confirmed in the Belize District with sixteen new cases followed by the Toledo District with thirteen new cases. Currently, there are six patients hospitalized and two admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Ordinarily, those admitted to the hospital are due to severe symptoms which is one of the reasons why the Government has been asking persons to get vaccinated. Research has indicated that once vaccinated the symptoms of Covid-19 would be less severe and death could possibly be avoided. As it relates to the vaccine, however, there are many anti-vaxxers who are refusing to take the jabs. There are also reports coming out of several corners that employers are making vaccination mandatory. These reports came on the heels of the Government announcing that frontline workers who are not vaccinated would have to be tested twice monthly. Police Commissioner, Chester Williams spoke on the government’s announcement and the reports that employers are forcing workers to get vaccinated.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “At no point in time did I hear either of them making mention to mandatory vaccination. What I heard was that the government is urging people to be vaccinated during the month of July and at the end of July what the government will do again is to perhaps have a policy that if you’re not vaccinated then you must produce a negative test every two weeks which to me makes proper sense because we’re dealing with a pandemic, a deadly virus and you need to be sure that when you come to a work setting where you have to encounter people, particular us in the front line,  that there is something to the effect that you are negative because there are a number of persons who may be positive and asymptomatic. So they’re not going to know they’re going to be at work like normal and they could be spreading the virus so what better way is there that if you are not vaccinated that you must produce a negative result to come to work ? So I don’t know where the whole concept of mandatory vaccination is coming from. Unless if those persons who are making the assertion know more than I do, I don’t know. I have heard some people say is that as a people we need to learn to live with the virus that may sound good but the truth of the matter is there are some people among us who just will not be able to live and the government and we all have a responsibility to act, to protect those persons. And it’s not because they wouldn’t want to live with it but their body will just not allow them to live with it and so we have to be that vanguard for those people.”

Also encouraging persons around the world to get vaccinated is the World Health Organization. In a public message posted on the internet, the organization’s Chief Scientist, Doctor Soumya Swaminathan spoke on the importance of the vaccine.

Dr.Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist: “So we’re talking here about the Delta variant, which is the fourth variant of concern described by WHO because it’s both more transmissible that the previous variants and also has been able to resist the antibodies that we have in ur blood. So what that means is that you need a higher level of antibodies to overcome this variant as compared to let’s say the Alpha variant. Now, the good news is that all of the WHO emergency use listed vaccines do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalization and death due to the Delta variant. So there are studies now from countries where there is a predominance of Delta variant to show that people who’ve been vaccinated are much less likely to end up in hospital and you need the full course of vaccination in order to give you that full immunity to protect you against the Delta variant. The main goal is these vaccines is really to prevent severe disease, because what we want is for people, even if they get the infection, is for them to recover from it and not become seriously ill. So that’s something that all of these vaccines do really well. Of course there are different levels. You read about the efficacy trials. They may range from 70 to 90%_ but in terms of just looking at the prevention of severe disease and hospitalization, they’re all very good, over 90% effective. There’re two very good reasons to get vaccinated. The first is to protect yourself from getting severely ill if you catch the infection. We know that there’s a certain proportion of people of all age groups who do get severely ill and you could have a chance of dying from this disease. And this is what we want to protect. So that’s why you want to get vaccinated in the first place. But secondly, if you get vaccinated and yes, you may still get the infection because we know that these vaccines are not going to protect you a 100% from the infection. So there is a small risk you get infected and you could pass it on to others. Why do you want to take the risk of doing that ? Why do you want to be one person in the chain of transmission ? What we need to do in the world today is to break those chains of transmission, get a control on this disease.”

To date, Belize has reported thirteen thousand three hundred and ninety one Covid-19 cases between March 23, 2020 and present day. Of that amount, twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty nine cases have been reported as recovered, and three hundred and thirty Covid related deaths have been registered