ISLAMABAD: A spokesman for Pakistan’s health ministry has denied reports that the government planned to “force” citizens to get coronavirus vaccine jabs, local media reported on Friday.
Pakistan said on Wednesday it would commit to spend $1.1 billion on procuring COVID-19 vaccines, hailing the nearly 10 million doses of vaccines already administered as an important step toward the South Asian nation’s goal of vaccinating eligible people by year end.
“We want to encourage vaccination and ensure that there is no risk at places of public gatherings and get together,” health ministry spokesman Sajid Shah told the Dawn newspaper. “There will be no forced vaccination by any means.”
However, a circular issued by Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), and published in local media, said COVID-19 risk allowance would not be paid to employees who did not have vaccination certificates. Similarly, staff at educational institutions in Islamabad have also reportedly been informed they will not be allowed to enter their places of work without getting vaccines.
Last week, the chief minister of Pakistan’s Sindh province directed authorities to block the salaries of government officials from July if they failed to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The Punjab government has also announced it will block the mobile phone connections of those who refused vaccinations.
Pakistan is currently at the tail-end of its third wave of the coronavirus, with daily infection numbers and deaths steadily decreasing.