Teachers say no to mandatory vaccination

October 06, 2021
Winston Smith
Winston Smith

President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Winston Smith, says the association will stand by its members' individual choices to get vaccinated or not.

Smith was addressing a candlelight ceremony held yesterday for teachers who have died during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was part of the JTA's observance of World Teachers' Day. Smith urged teachers to follow the necessary safety protocols but said they must do what they feel is best when it comes to vaccination.

"Colleagues, a big part of the education recovery will involve us adhering to the safety protocols. We need to be alive and well in order to reap the fruits of our labour," Smith said. "Furthermore, there are vaccines available to add some measure of protection from the ravishes of this disease. But I must let you know colleagues without any doubt or any uncertainty, taking the vaccine remains a personal choice and whatever decision you make, the Jamaica Teachers' Association stands resolute with you to ensure that you are protected and your rights are not taken away."

President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) Dr Garth Anderson noted that democratically elected governments in the region "have taken active steps to violate the human rights provisions of our teachers".

"Let it be known that the Caribbean Union of Teachers is diametrically opposed to mandatory vaccination. While we appreciate the imperative of face-to-face instruction and the delicate balance that must be found in controlling COVID-19 as a public health emergency, and that of returning some level of normalcy, this cannot be at the expense of breaching the rights of our teachers using such a draconian approach," he said.

Anderson added "The CUT is in support of the use of vaccination to curtail the spread of COVID-19 but teachers must be given a choice to decide what will enter their bodies, not governments. Mandatory vaccination will only serve to alienate, divide and create a toxic environment that will not be supportive of the recovery we so desire in the education system." Locally, companies including Digicel and CVM have announced that all employees must be vaccinated or must regularly provide negative COVID test results in order to continue employment.

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