‘You can’t force us to take the vaccine’ – unvaccinated GPHC workers locked out


Measures implemented by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), geared towards preventing unvaccinated staff from entering the compound, were rejected by those unvaccinated health care workers attached to the facility who staged a protest on Thursday morning.

The unvaccinated workers were prevented from entering the facility because they also did not have a negative PCR Covid-19 test result.

Those measures were instituted on Wednesday and made public through a notice issued by the hospital’s Director (ag.) of Human Resources, Odessa Wickham.

But many unvaccinated healthcare workers have said that they do not intend to adhere to the measures which they described as “an act of force”.

Among those affected is Diane Maloney, a senior resident in the Infectious Disease Internal Medicine Department. She told reporters during the protest that the rejection of the vaccinates by health care workers does not mean that they are “anti-vaccination” but that more needs to be done to address the concerns surrounding the vaccines.

Diane Maloney (Photo: News Room/ August 26, 2021)

“The government has done a poor job and I emphasize a poor job at educating because if they feel that people need this vaccine so much, they have done a poor job at sensitizing people and explaining what are the risks and the benefits of having the vaccines,” Dr. Maloney said.

“If you want to achieve herd immunity, you have to allay the fears of the people and not take a hard-handed, up-handed and hardline approach and tell people that your job is going to be threatened if you refuse to take the vaccine,” she added.

Meanwhile, Gerald Forde, a Government Medical Officer, expressed similar sentiments and noted that forcing persons to take the vaccines is a “violation of human rights.”

Gerald Forde (Photo: News Room/ August 26, 2021)

“Just as persons chose to take the vaccine, we are expressing our right not to take the vaccines,” he said. Forde argued that just as doctors are not allowed to administer any medication to a patient without their consent, the principles should be the same for health care workers.

Moreover, he pointed out that if the workers are required to provide the negative PCR tests, they should not have to pay for it. “We should not have to pay for those tests because if they want us to get it, they need to pay for it,” Forde stated.

Meanwhile, the First Vice President of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Dawn Gardener was at the protest in support of the workers. She expressed disappointment at the measures instituted.

Further, Gardener called on President Irfaan Ali to intervene as the workers will not budge from their position until the measures are reversed.

Exemptions from the measures will only be made for those categories of people listed in the guidelines issued by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Narine Singh. These include pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who tested positive for COVID-19, people who received blood transfusions and people with underlying conditions.

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