Students aged 12 and older are required to get a COVID-19 booster shot in Puerto Rico as the governor of the island nation announced a string of new measures on Thursday targeting public schools, the entertainment sector, and tourism.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat, stressed in a series of posts on social media that every eligible Puerto Rican “should get their booster as soon as possible.”
Pierluisi underscored that the deadline for students to get the jab is Feb. 15, adding that these shots will be a requirement to follow face-to-face classes.
“This includes college and technical degree students,” he said. “Students who for any medical or religious reason do not get the booster dose will be required to have a qualified viral test, including antigen testing, every seven days.”
The expansion of the booster shot requirement also applies to those who work in hotels, cinemas, convention centers, and others employed in the entertainment and tourism sectors, Pierluisi said.
Pierluisi noted that students and private-sector personnel who have already been vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and are eligible for a booster shot, but who refuse to do so, must meet one of the following conditions:
- Have a qualified COVID-19 test, which includes antigen tests, processed by a health professional every week;
- Submit a positive COVID-19 test from the past three months together with documentation of your recovery;
- Present evidence of being vaccinated against the CCP virus.
“If an employee does not comply with these stipulations, he will not be able to work in person,” Pierluisi said. “I trust our people and I know they will respond to this call to continue to protect us.”
Meanwhile, the governor also capped indoor capacity at 75 percent in all public and private places that serve clients and limited access to mass activities, such as sports events, to only those who are vaccinated with their booster dose or have a negative test performed at least 48 hours before attending the event.
He also extended restrictions currently in place for another two weeks, including demanding the closure of most businesses from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. and banning alcohol sales at those times, The Associated Press reported.
Pierluisi recently delayed the opening of public schools by two weeks and required those working in the food, health, and education sectors to get their boosters.
Puerto Rico has one of the highest vaccination rates in the United States, with more than 76 percent of its population being fully vaccinated and already more than 40 percent have received a booster dose.
Despite promising vaccination rates, the island nation of 3.3 million people has recently experienced its highest hospitalization and infection rate since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago.
Late last year, Puerto Rico reported a test positivity rate of below 5 percent, but it increased rapidly this month to 36 percent, a change officials have blamed on the Omicron variant of the CCP virus.