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Parliament to amend Education Act to allow vaccine mandate for schoolchildren, State of emergency also set to be extended on Thursday

By Carlena Knight

carlena.knight@antiguaobserver.com

With vaccine mandates for public sector workers now in effect, plans are also being made by the government to amend the Education Act in Parliament this week to pave the way for a similar mandate for schoolchilden.

Last Thursday, Cabinet said from October 1 all eligible students, 12 years and over, shall be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Unlike other Covid-related policies which would fall under the Public Health Act, giving government the legal leg to stipulate these measures, there must first be an amendment to the Education Act for that to happen as it pertains to children.

Cabinet spokesperson, Melford Nicholas, said, “There will be an amendment to the Education Act on Thursday to allow for the mandatory vaccines in the schools, beyond the primary schools, but outside of that, the other measures are sufficiently treated under the Public Health Act and the state of emergency like what we have done from time to time.” 

According to the Education Act “no child shall be admitted as a pupil to a public school which is a primary school until his parent or guardian produces a certificate issued by a doctor or the Public Health authorities indicating that the child has been immunised against tetanus, pertussis, polio and diptheria”.

Nicholas said discussions will also be held to extend the current state of emergency, which expires on September 30, among other things.

“Beyond that, the discussion in Parliament on Thursday will address each of these particular policy issues as part of what informs the requirement to continue with the state of emergency,” Nicholas explained.

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