News

Practical issues delay mandatory vaccine card

BY Pamodi Waravita

Despite Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella saying earlier this month that the Ministry would introduce a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination card policy that will be required when travelling in public places, the Ministry said yesterday (18) that although it is legally possible to introduce a policy of having a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination card, the practical implications of the matter are still under discussion.

“We have many practical aspects to consider before implementing such a measure. We have to consider how an online application (app) can be used by a majority of the population. We also have to see how those who don’t have the app can carry their vaccination card to all public places, as this would prove difficult to many people as people could accidentally lose it,” Ministry of Health Communications Director and Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath told The Morning on Wednesday (17).

He said that discussions are, therefore, still ongoing regarding the matter.

On 8 November, Rambukwella said that the Attorney General’s (AG) Department had informed him that it is legally possible to prohibit access to public spaces for those who are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines but are not fully vaccinated (two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine) against the Covid-19 virus, and that, therefore, the Government will implement regulations in this regard soon.

“I hope to do this legally, similar to a number of developed countries that have already done so. We may face legal challenges, but we are ready for those,” Rambukwella said at the time.

The Morning’s attempts to contact Minister Rambukwella yesterday proved futile.

Sri Lanka started administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster (third) dose for all those over the age of 60 years on 17 November. Accordingly, those over the age of 60 years, who have completed three months since the second dose of any Covid-19 vaccine, and are living in the Western and Southern Provinces, the Anuradhapura District in the North Central Province, or the Ampara District in the Eastern Province are eligible for the booster shot.

Meanwhile, the administration of the booster shot for frontline workers began in the first week of November. According to the Presidential Secretariat’s Vaccination Dashboard, 84% of the eligible population (over the age of 16 years) has been fully vaccinated with two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.