The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) does not recommend mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, according to PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa.
During a press briefing yesterday, Barbosa was asked about PAHO’s stance for making the vaccine mandatory in order to reach herd immunity.
“PAHO does not recommend the use of mandatory measures or vouchers to encourage people to be vaccinated,” he said.
“Of course, these are decisions that every country can make. But, the most important measure to guarantee that the people will get vaccinated is to provide the right information to the families, to the communities.
“So, [it] is very important that each ministry of health needs to develop a very comprehensive communication plan. It is very important to reach out to the physician, nurse, health worker in the country explaining what are the benefits of the vaccine [and] why people should be vaccinated.
“So, when a family or a person goes to a doctor for any other reason and they have some doubts about the vaccine, they can ask the nurse or physician and reach the proper information.”
Barbosa said it is also important that governments use social media for their vaccination campaigns in addition to traditional media.
He said PAHO believes this is the best way to encourage the public to take vaccines.
“The vaccines are saving lives already and can protect you, your family and your community,” Barbosa said.
“This is [a] very important measure that every country needs to have as a priority in their national vaccination plan.”
In recent weeks, some private businesses in The Bahamas have mandated that employees take the vaccine.
However, the government maintains that the vaccine is voluntary.
Last month, Attorney General Carl Bethel said his office will have to examine the legal authority of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in The Bahamas.
“I haven’t looked at the law on the matter,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“I just see the issue as an emerging [one] and I would have to take advice on that first and then, once I see what they say, I would have to satisfy myself if they’re correct in terms of my legal officers. I don’t ever jump to a legal opinion, particularly on new matters, particularly on new law.”
More than 34,000 people have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine in The Bahamas.