Shamindra Ferdinando – island.lk
Justice Minister Ali Sabry PC, yesterday (20) said that the vaccine should be made mandatory unless there were compelling medical reasons to decline the only available ‘safeguard’ so far.
Declaring he had taken the vaccine, the SLPP National List MP emphasised that the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) repeatedly urged the Muslim community to take the vaccine.
Responding to The Island queries. Lawmaker Sabry said that his elderly mother, too, received the vaccine.
Newly appointed Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that he intended to take up the issue with the Attorney General’s Department.
Acknowledging the possibility of various interested parties launching a legal challenge against the move, the former media minister asserted that the government could ignore the continuing risk posed by those who declined the vaccination.
The call for making vaccination mandatory has gathered momentum in the wake of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) urging the government to consider a third dose for frontline health workers as well as the entire population as the raging epidemic posed quite a threat. Dr. GMOA Secretary Senal Fernando early this week emphasized the urgent need to consider a third dose due to some recipients of both doses being tested Covid-19 positive.
Minister Sabry explained vaccination was the primary safeguard all over the world as repeatedly pointed out by medical experts. The minister dismissed assertions that the Muslim community opposed the vaccination drive.
Both Mujibur Rahman (SJB/Colombo) and Mohammed Muzammil (SLPP/National List) said that they received the vaccine as obviously there was no other cure.
State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle told The Island that a substantial number of those who had succumbed to Covid-19 didn’t receive at least a single dose of vaccine. Dr. Fernandopulle said that among the recent victims were a doctor and other professionals.
“Refusal to take vaccination is quite a problem, a serious issue that can be addressed by making it mandatory through legal means,” the State Minister said, underscoring the importance of taking tangible short-term and long term measures. Vaccination should be made mandatory to influence and compel the public to take the vaccine for their protection.
Former Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and SJB MP Rohini Kaviratne (Matale district) are among those who recently backed the call to make vaccination mandatory.
Lawmaker Kaviratne said that the government should stop manipulating Covid-19 data in a bid to deceive the country. Referring to the sharp discrepancy in figures released by the Epidemiology Unit and the senior officer in charge of the Matale district, MP Kaviratne accused the government of suppressing data.
She alleged that those responsible had even altered the number of families quarantined in the Matale district. Responding to another query, the former UNPer said that manipulation of Covid-19 data had been quite widespread and certainly not restricted to the Matale district.
The SJB MP asked the rationale in suppressing accurate data. Lawmaker Kaviratne pointed out that SLPP constituent, the National Freedom Front (NFF) publicly accused two senior officials of the Epidemiology Unit and a senior military official of manipulating Covid-19 figures pertaining to the Gampaha District. The MP asked the NFF whether the government responded to its accusation or just turned a blind eye.
Lawmaker Kaviratne pointed out that a recent letter that requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to declare a three-week long ‘lockdown’ in the face of deteriorating Covid-19 situation, written by smaller parties which contested the last general election on the SLPP ticket revealed serious differences among the constituents. She pointed out the SLPP with over 100 members elected refrained from making that request for obvious reasons.
The MP urged the government to stop playing politics with the issue. Such strategies would be detrimental to public health, she said.