With a resurgence of COVID-19 all across the nation, Puerto Rico is cracking down with vaccination mandates.
The federal government and several states have done the same, with only half of Americans vaccinated. In Puerto Rico, 69% of those 18 and over are fully vaccinated, and 94% of those over 65 are fully vaccinated.
Governor Pierluisi says that all public employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Government contractors and ath Clare workers must also be vaccinated.
The Puerto Rico Department of Health is requiring vaccination for everyone 12 and older at educational institutions from elementary schools to colleges. Students, faculty, and staff must show proof of vaccination in order to attend.
While religious objections must be respected, they also require a statement signed by the individual’s minister or rabbi. Health exemptions require a doctor’s statement.
In the states, it’s mostly large companies that are mandating vaccines. Google, Facebook, the NFL, and Disney have announced that employees are required to get COVID-19 vaccines before they head back to work. Only 3 to 4% of small businesses are requiring vaccines.
Puerto Rico is the exception. NPR reports that 20% of Puerto Rico’s small businesses are requiring vaccinations. They point out that Puerto Rico was stricter about the pandemic from the beginning.
Puerto Rico had lockdowns and curfews and travel restrictions early on. The result was that Puerto Rico saw fewer cases than most states of the same size.
Puerto Rico has less healthcare funding, fewer doctors, and a less robust health system than the states. It also has a higher proportion of elderly residents and people with chronic diseases. If Puerto Rico had been hit with the same level of cases as some of the states, it would have been impossible for the health care system to handle it.
Prevention was the only solution.
Businesses were affected, and still are. A small business can be closed down for up to two weeks if an outbreak is discovered — and legally, outbreaks must be reported in Puerto Rico.
Fortunately, vaccine acceptance is high in Puerto Rico. It has not been a politicized, divisive issue as it has been in so many states.
Puerto Rico is also requiring vaccination for anyone staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast. Governor Pierluisi has relaxed and tightened restrictions over the tourism season in response to changes in the level of danger.
Travelers must be vaccinated before arriving in Puerto Rico.Anyone who arrives without proof of vaccination will have to receive a vaccination. Failure to do so within 36 hours carries a fine of $300.
Puerto Rico has seen a rise in cases, but still has fewer hotspots than most states.