Mandatory vaccination makes a significant cross-section of the general public uncomfortable. However, for the Virgin Islands to participate in the worldwide travel and tourism economy, the territory must achieve herd immunity, which is the place of safety from the pandemic.
Countries that achieve herd immunity — where a high percentage of the population is fully vaccinated and consequently at much lower risk from Covid-19 and even the delta variant — are much more able to return to normality, without the recurring risk of lockdowns and curfews that impact the economy by shutting down business activity.
The evidence from countries such as New Zealand, Australia and several Pacific islands — which have not yet achieved herd immunity but have adopted draconian protocols — has shown that vaccination remains the only hope for a return to normal for humanity.
In the United States, the recent surge in the pandemic and the rapid spread of the delta variant have impacted the younger population and wreaked havoc and death in counties with low vaccination rates.
The adoption of mandatory vaccination appears to be an incremental process.
For the unvaccinated, travel is becoming nearly impossible, especially to Europe and the Asian Pacific. Meanwhile, numerous industries are adopting vaccination protocols, making life difficult for unvaccinated residents.
However, mandatory vaccination has not arrived on VI shores. Nevertheless, mandatory testing at the hospital and the “strong encouragement” for employees in tourism and other industries to get vaccinated is a sign of things to come.
The simple fact is that the economy cannot return to normal until a very high percentage of the population is fully vaccinated.
Until that time, the economy will remain on tenterhooks and at threat of sudden disruption.
The most worrying factor is the fact that under-18-year-olds remain mostly unvaccinated.
In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, there is an increase in Covid-19 among the younger population, leading to hospitalisation and even death. This is especially so with the delta variant of the virus.
Consequently, the vaccination drive is similar to any wartime project that is conducted to save a country from trauma and even destruction.
Getting the vast majority of the VI population vaccinated is not an option: It is a matter of life and death.
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