BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
PUBLIC servants and employees of state-owned companies who are yet to take their first COVID jab will not be allowed to enter their offices as of today.
That’s according to a Cabinet resolution designed to ensure employees of government and other state institutions get vaccinated.
In his national address in August, Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr Culwick Togamana confirmed that the three groups of employees are as follow:
- all public servants and employees of the central and provincial governments and eligible members of their families,
- all staff of state-owned enterprises [SOEs] and other government institutions / subsidiaries and eligible members of their families
- employees of private companies undertaking work at the front-lines – such as shipping agents, airlines, stevedores, crews of fishing vessels and eligible members of their families.
Togamana said this applies to three mentioned groups in the provinces where COVID-19 vaccination rollout had already commenced including Honiara, Western Province, and Choiseul Province, Guadalcanal Province and Malaita Outer Islands to receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccination by 31st August 2021 and their second dose by 30 November 2021.
“Any person covered under the above categories who chooses not to get their 1st dose of vaccination by 31st August, will not be allowed to access their place of employment, and any person in the three categories not fully vaccinated by 30th November 2021 will be taken as having chosen to self-terminate their employment,” he said.
Togamana said the Cabinet also agreed that for provinces where vaccination rollout has not yet commenced, all employees under the above 3 categories will have 60 days [2 months] to get their first dose of vaccination and the last date to take their 2nd dose of vaccination will be 12 weeks from the date of the closing day for the 1st dose period.
“Like those in Honiara, Western, Choiseul, Guadalcanal provinces and Malaita Outer Islands, any person under the above categories who chooses not to receive their first dose by the end of the period for taking the first dose, will not be allowed to access their workplaces, and if they still choose not to be vaccinated by the closing date of the 2nd dose period will be taken as having chosen to self-terminate their employment,” he said.
Togamana adds that the mandatory vaccination came about because the cabinet has set a national vaccination target to achieve 80 percent 1st dose vaccination coverage nationally by 30th November 2021, and 80 percent 2nd dose vaccination coverage nationally by 28 February 2022.
“It is not the government’s intention to punish people. Its intention is to protect the total population of this country from COVID-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, the total number of the three groups of people who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is yet to be confirmed.