Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that Vybz Kartel may have a key role in the government’s continued efforts to vaccinate the majority of Jamaica’s population by 2022.
So far, just about seven percent (7%) of the island’s people are fully vaccinated. While the government has been trying to vaccinate persons, there has been a high number of people against taking the shot, which is said to help persons from either getting the virus or having minimal reactions.
A recent study showed that anti-vaccination rhetoric and conspiracies were rife among the population, with the majority of people against mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
However, the Prime Minister believes that Vybz Kartel, who is one of the most influential entertainers on the island, might be able to assist in getting more persons on board.
“In a national emergency such as a pandemic, we in the Government of Jamaica would enlist the support of all well-thinking citizens in encouraging persons to take the vaccine,” Holness said.
The incarcerated Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, recently took his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and is said to be doing well after taking the shot.
Vybz Kartel leaving court 2014 | Urban Islandz
The proposal to use Kartel first came about after his Attorney, Isat Buchanan, noted that the artist wanted to take the vaccine, but it was not yet available for prisoners. He also suggested that the artist who had a deep connection with average Jamaicans through his music be used as a vaccine ambassador, something that Health Minister Chris Tufton wasn’t aversed to.
“There is no doubt that Vybz Kartel is an influencer, with many fans throughout the country. … If he can influence others to take it that would be good. I would be willing to work with the penal system to explore how it could be done,” Tufton said recently.
However, the prime minister noted that all hands should be on deck to assist the country with coping with the pandemic.
“In terms of how the government structures its programmes, the existence of a pandemic, of an emergency, does not always justify the dispensing of rules and regulations and laws and policies and principles. So, we make a general call for every citizen of Jamaica to support and use their influence,” Holness said.
He added that the government has tried to get the support of influential groups in the pro-vaccination campaign but that not everyone has responded.
The Prime Minister added that the help of everyone is needed if the island is to successfully control the effects of the pandemic in Jamaica.
“We have a national programme and that programme has to follow all the laws and guidelines and procedures. So that will prescribe how we engage. So my short answer to you is, we encourage everyone from all walks of life, wherever you are, whatever your status, whatever your station, if you can support and add your voice, please go ahead and do so,” said Holness.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that for anyone to help, there was no need to sign on with a state-supported program, but instead, they can use their platforms to share organic support.
It seems that Vybz Kartel might be trying to show his support to the government and his efforts at rehabilitation even as his appeal at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is pending.