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Health Ministry advises vaccine refusers  

BY Buddhika Samaraweera 

The Health Ministry has urged the public to consult with the relevant Medical Officer of Health (MOH) or any other qualified medical officer if they have any issue with regard to obtaining of Covid-19 vaccines.

Speaking to The Morning, Health Ministry’s Communications Director, the Public Health Services Deputy Director General, and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said that there have been a few reports of people refusing to be vaccinated due to the lack of knowledge about Covid-19 vaccines. However, there is no need to have any undue fear about it, he noted.

Further, he explained what should be done if anyone has some issue with getting the Covid-19 vaccine. “If someone has an issue in getting the vaccine, they can discuss it with the MOH of the area or any other qualified medical officer. Do not avoid getting the vaccine unless you have been advised by a medical officer not to take the vaccine due to a reasonable medical condition,” he elaborated.

Although no legal action can be taken against those who refuse to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry had recently requested the public to obtain the Covid-19 vaccines considering the prevailing situation.

Dr. Herath earlier said that people should volunteer to receive the Covid-19 vaccine or any other vaccine, and added that no legal action could be taken against those who refuse to take the vaccine. However, he said that if anyone had a misconception about the Covid-19 vaccine or any other vaccine, the Health Ministry would take steps to educate them, thereby encouraging such individuals to receive the vaccine. Misconceptions about vaccination can be dispelled, especially through counselling, he added.

He further added that in order to take legal action against individuals who refuse to be vaccinated, legal provisions should be introduced. “However, the health sector is not a sector that operates under such a legal framework. Even the vaccines given to children have not been made mandatory,” he elaborated previously.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, as of 8.30 p.m. on 28 July, a total of 10,712,817 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Sri Lanka, including 1,311,127 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, 8,363,464 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, 173,584 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, 155,017 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 709,625 doses of the Moderna vaccine. In addition, a total of 5,300 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine had been given to Chinese nationals who have come to Sri Lanka for employment in development project related construction activities.