As several residents of Linden, Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice) continue to protest against the government’s vaccination policy, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony says the situation is being monitored.
Lindeners on Wednesday formed human blockades at the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge in protest as nurses and other staff attached to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) who are unvaccinated against Covid-19 were denied entry into the medical institution. The staff attached to the Hospital were reportedly told on Tuesday that in order to gain entry, they would have to show their vaccination cards to the security at the gate.
Police ranks are presently stationed on both ends of the Bridge as Regional Division Commander Hugh Winter and team visited the location. A number of officials are also at the location including Regional Chairman Deron Adams.
Commenting on this development, Dr Anthony noted that the government is still hoping that persons who are reluctant to take the vaccine will sooner or later, understand the importance of the jabs.
“We’ve seen a lot of people who were reluctant, coming forward and getting that vaccine and I think that’s a positive thing,” he said.
“Ultimately, we want people to be vaccinated. Because our staff, they are on the frontline… they are constantly in contact with the general public and you’re offering services to the general public which put you at risk if somebody is infected with Covid and the best way you can reduce that really is to be vaccinated. So, we hope that our staff or those who are reluctant, that they seriously consider getting vaccinated. If they don’t want to get vaccinated, then they have to get a PCR test to show that they are not infected,” the Health Minister reiterated.
Asked whether shutting out unvaccinated healthcare workers will impact the delivery of healthcare services, the Minister said “we will monitor to see how that is affecting our capacity to deliver service.”
Speaking directly about the developments in Region Ten, he said “we are monitoring the different departments there. We had some persons who are vaccinated and they were able to come to work and continue to working as normal. And there are lots of others persons who refuse to take the vaccine, putting themselves at risk and they didn’t show up with a PCR.”
The Health Minister made it clear that “this thing is a public safety matter as well. Imagine if you’re vaccinated or a patient who is unvaccinated come to the hospital and you have staff that are unvaccinated working with you… It’s ethical, it’s moral and we have to protect ourselves and I really do believe, with a little bit more education, that the healthcare workers who are reluctant would understand the importance and the need to get vaccinated.”
“So, we hope this would happen sooner or rather later and we continue to monitor to make sure that the services that we’re delivering is not compromised,” Dr Anthony added.
To date, 275,451 persons are now vaccinated with a first dose representing 56.6% of the adult population. On the other hand, 145,566 persons or 29.9% of the population are fully vaccinated.
The vaccination uptake in Region Ten is the lowest in the country.