Gov’t does not rule out mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant in Puerto Rico, acting Gov. Omar Marrero Díaz confirmed on Monday that the administration is considering mandatory vaccination as one of the options to be discussed with the Puerto Rico Scientific Coalition and the Department of Health to tackle the pandemic.

In response to questions from the STAR, Marrero said that even though promoting voluntary inoculation against the coronavirus remains the main goal, mandatory vaccination, among many other options, is expected to be evaluated in a meeting scheduled for today.

“Everything is under consideration, including that possibility, subject to how controversial it might be,” he said. “I believe that what we all want is to succeed in this battle against COVID-19, and for that, we have to get everyone’s cooperation.”

“If you all know someone who has not been vaccinated, and you have this one theory that we all know does not hold up in the light of day, let’s cooperate, particularly for those minors who cannot vaccinate yet,” Marrero added. “For those minors who cannot be vaccinated, all the older ones who can be should get their shots, particularly from [those] 20 to 29 years of age, who, at a given moment, were still the main challenge we had to increase the vaccination rate.”

Regarding possible future restrictions to mitigate the uptick in positive cases, the acting governor said everything remains under control as hospitalizations due to the coronavirus remain under 100.

Nevertheless, he recognized that the increase in cases is “sharp” and urged islanders to remain cautious so that the government does not issue stricter measures to handle the public health emergency.

“At this moment, the secretary of health [Carlos Mellado López] is our general in this battle,” Marrero said. “He is monitoring [the situation] and any consideration that he believes has to be made to take a little more immediate measures, they are going to be considered.”

“This is the time that we all have to exercise that patriotic duty and ensure that we do not have to live through times we do not want to revisit, where we are taking measures that can affect the economy and, obviously, the family environment, as has happened in the past,” the acting governor added. “There are vaccines on every corner. I wish every jurisdiction in the world had a situation like we do, that we have access to vaccines everywhere.”

Last Thursday, the STAR reported that the Health Department’s principal medical officer, Iris Cardona Gerena, said that 3.7 million vaccines had been administered in Puerto Rico, with 2.6 million (63%) of the eligible population receiving at least one vaccine dose and only 1.769 million (55%) having completed the vaccination series.

Earlier Monday, the Health Department reported 132 confirmed and 121 probable coronavirus cases.

Moreover, the agency reported 86 hospitalizations due to COVID-19; among the hospitalized patients, 60 adults and 26 minors were reported, while 11 adults were plugged into ventilators.

At press time, 2,561 people in Puerto Rico had died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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