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Archbishop Jason Gordon holds up the Blessed Sacrament outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conceptionon Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, after the Corpus Christi Mass, on Corpus Christi.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon has urged his congregation to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a column in the Catholic News this week, the Archbishop warned that the people refusing to be vaccinated are creating a grave risk for the rest of the population, by keeping the virus circulating and increasing the risk of mutations becoming more vicious, both in severity and infection rate.”

He wrote: “They put themselves at risk, and as we open up, they would be susceptible, and their children and grandchildren could become carriers.”

Archbishop Gordon added that unvaccinated people in the workplace will impose burdens on the rest of the population.

“Their choice imposes a burden on all the rest of us. We will not get out of the series of lockdowns, mask-wearing, social-distancing, and isolation until significant proportions of the planet are vaccinated,” he wrote.

He further stated: “A second ethical challenge is for all nations to have equal opportunity to receive vaccines. For rich nations to hoard vaccines and throw them away when they expire, while poor nations have no access to them, is a grave moral injustice and a sin against God and humanity.

“For the first time, we are facing a challenge that the individual (person or nation) cannot get out of independently. We are all interconnected. We need each other. If the poor nations are not vaccinated, the mutations will get back to the rich nations to repeat this crisis.”

Noting that there is “no way forward without significant risk: he said the question is which risks are we willing to take and what impact will it have on future generations.

The Archbishop warned: “To sit by and allow people to become infected, as a deliberate strategy, is inhumane. This is why Pope Francis said, “to refuse vaccines for COVID is ‘suicidal denial’.” Every human has an ethical responsibility to be vaccinated.

“Vaccination prepares the immune system to fight the virus (SARS-CoV-2) by exposing it to important parts of the virus so that when we are exposed to the live virus, we can mount a good immune response against it.

“No vaccine completely stops one from getting COVID-19, but those who are fully vaccinated (got their two doses and gave the immune system a full 14 days to respond to the second dose) tend to get milder infection, with less likelihood of hospitalisation and very low chance of death.”’

He pointed out that people who are fully vaccinated are far less likely to transmit the virus to others and so decrease the spread of infection.

In addition, vaccination of adults provides a safer environment for children who cannot be vaccinated in T&T at present, ensuring that they can go back to schools safely.

“It ensures we open the economy as early as possible, giving people the chance to earn and return to life, dignity and rebuilding our nation,” Archbishop Gordon said.

He described vaccination as a moral responsibility and advised: “If you are hesitant to be vaccinated, please check your information source. Is it a case of misinformation or disinformation? Or is it credible? Read the Vatican guideline Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, December 20, 2020.”