ECONOMYNEXT – If the circumstances call for it, Sri Lanka may consider going for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
Speaking to reporters in Kandy on Sunday (26), Rambukwella said if the need arises, the government may discuss a legal framework for such a mandate with the advice of health experts.
“Just as one has a right to one’s own life, there is a problem if one opposes decisions that will prevent someone else being infected. So we might have to take a decision, in the event of [a vaccine mandate] becomnig essential,” he said.
Though Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout has been largely successful despite delays, authorities have expressed concern over a disturbing reluctance among the country’s youth to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of September 27, only 48 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20-29 age group have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while only 12.7 percent are fully vaccinated.
State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana told parliament last week that “fake news” circulated online has led to a vaccine hesitance among this particular demographic.
Among other unsubstantiated claims, these online falsehoods suggest vaccination could lead to sexual dysfunction, reproduction and fertility issues, or the destruction of the immune system, said Jayasumana.
“There has been much research done regarding these vaccines and no study has yet proved these claims,” he said.
The Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union also said the vaccination of the age group is much slower than anticipated.
One of the reasons, according to a PHI union spokesperson, is that younger people tend to show a preference to the Pfizer-BionTech jab due to a belief that it has the highest efficacy. (Colombo/Sep27/2021)