GUYANA: Unvaccinated staff members of Linden and other Region 10 hospitals locked out

COVID-19 Vaccines

August 11, 2021 – Kaieteur News – Nurses, doctors, ancillary, administrative staff and other employees of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), were on Tuesday morning locked out of the compound for failing to produce a COVID-19 Vaccination Card. Similarly, this occurred at the Upper Demerara Hospital, the Kwakwani Hospital and health centres across the Region.

Staff members of the Charles Rosa School of Nursing who did not take their COVID-19 vaccine, were also sent home. This is in keeping with the Ministry of Health’s country wide enforcement of the ‘no vaccine, no entry’ policy.

Staff members at LHC were denied entry into the compound at Linden.

Employees however remain adamant that it is their human right to choose what goes into their bodies. They argue that it is unconstitutional to force them to make a medical choice, more so when they are not adequately informed on the harmlessness of the vaccine. The frontline workers stress that the vaccines being administered are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). “We will peacefully picket right here, we not moving, we got to send a strong message, because we not moving, we are nobody’s lab rat and we are nobody’s test tube and we not gon sit down and take what they push down we throat, we want equal rights and justice. If we don’t get equal rights, we gon stand in the same position forever, we need to take our grounds,” one staff member said.

Standing in solidarity with the nurses were representatives from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU). Industrial Relations Officer of GPSU, Maurice Butters, assured the workers that they are in their rights as long as they report for duty and that the Union will take the necessary legal action, if their employment is further threatened. The GPSU maintains that the vaccine should not be mandatory. “According to the labour law, the Safety and Health Act, you are in your rights, you reported for work, but you are denied entry to work. Even if we have to go to court to ensure that your rights are protected, that is what we plan to do,” Butters said.

Sharing similar sentiments was Regional Chairman, Deron Adams, who said that while he has been an advocate for the vaccination campaign, he does not believe that persons should be forced and that their livelihood should be threatened. “While I support the vaccination exercise against COVID-19, I do not believe the position taken by the administration to make it mandatory. Nurses’ rights are human rights and I believe this is grave human rights violation.”

Adams said the Regional Democratic Council has embarked on an aggressive public relations campaign so that persons can receive credible information, since his engagement with residents shows that they have genuine concerns about the vaccine. “Now you have people who would have recovered from COVID-19 and they are mentioning to me and are still experiencing symptoms. The doctors are saying that when you had COVID-19 and is still exhibiting symptoms, you should take the vaccine, so how can you lock all of these people out. They had a baby that just came here for shortness of breath and he was turned back,” Adams argued.

He blamed the current administration for their failure to not properly educate the masses and clear up their genuine concerns.
“I believe this is as a result of the abysmal failure of the administration to do a robust PR campaign to adequately provide information to the public. At a time when we should be supporting the efforts of our frontline workers, we have an administration that is locking them out because they want to force a position on them and we cannot support that.”

Meanwhile hire care drivers stood in solidarity with the Healthcare workers and picketed the decision to impose mandatory vaccination on them as well. Driver, Rayon Singh, is calling on the policy makers to carefully consider the situation since protest action is expected to heighten in the Region.
In Region 10 unvaccinated persons cannot enter the Regional Democratic Council, the Guyana Revenue Authority and other Government agencies. Less than 20 percent of residents have been vaccinated.

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