ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Parliamentarians are not rushing the fences to get themselves vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus and up to this morning less than 30 of them had got the jab multiple sources told EconomyNext.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene who is 75 years old was vaccinated this morning at the Army Hospital, accompanied by Indian High Commissioner Gopal Bagley and Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva.
Some MPs from both the government and the Opposition have deferred getting the vaccine because they felt that the opportunity should be given to a more vulnerable person.
Opposition MPs Hesha Withanage, Chaminda Wijesiri, Harin Fernando and Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage are among those who have not been vaccinated.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Withanage said that he took the decision to refrain from taking the COVID-19 vaccine because people will be disgusted with politicians if they use their privileges to get themselves and their family members vaccinated.
“Until the last citizen who needs to be vaccinated is vaccinated, I will not get it,” he said.
However, referring to some of the MPs who got vaccinated yesterday including SJB MP Tissa Attanayake, he said that it is the personal decision of the MPs to decide on getting the vaccination.
“It is fair for the MPs between the ages 70-75 to get vaccinated because there is a risk for them, but when young MPs get vaccinated it is something to consider,” he added
Also, speaking at reporters, MP Wijesiri he had also refrained from getting the COVID-19 vaccine as it is suitable to give prominence to the groups which are suffering because of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that some private sector companies have requested from the government to allow them to import the COVID-19 vaccine in order to vaccinate their employees and their family members, which the government has not allowed.
“Since the government is going to purchase the next batch of vaccines through taxpayers money, such a request is fair,” he said.
He added that If COVID-19 vaccines are imported through the private sector, then MPs can get vaccinated as they can afford it.
MPs Harin Fernando, Manusha Nanayakkara, and Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage also refused to receive the vaccination yesterday.
Harin Fernando via Twitter said that he will not receive the vaccine until a million people from among the public have been vaccinated.
Minister Aluthgamage said he had taken a personal decision to refrain from receiving the vaccine, in order to provide an opportunity for an individual from the vulnerable groups identified from among the public to be vaccinated.
He also said despite politicians interacting more with the public, it was only fair to grant that opportunity to someone from the public.
19 Members of Parliament were vaccinated with Oxford Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Army Hospital yesterday after the Parliamentarians were included in the vulnerable group category to receive the vaccination. (Colombo/Feb19/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe and Arjuna Ranawana