Thousands of frontline workers disobey order and avoid vaccination – ministry of health, HCC, NRH, Guadalcanal health, etc
BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare is “extremely disappointed” at public servants of frontline ministries and frontline agency workers who have not turned up to be vaccinated.
Only 600 people including prime minister Sogavare have been vaccinated in the first three days. A very small portion of the 7,000 estimated to be vaccinated in Honiara.
Primer Minister Sogavare had ordered all frontline workers to be jabbed before this Wednesday, March 31. It now seems this will not be possible.
Dr Jimmie Rodgers, deputy secretary and deputy chair to the national oversight committee, has hinted that these workers may face legal action for disobeying the prime minister’s directives under the state of emergency for them to be vaccinated.
Dr Yogesh Choudri, advisor to the ministry of Health, warns that such defiant attitude will weaken the country’s preparations and response to the covid-19 pandemic, especially as the country gears towards resuming international trade.
Attorney General John Muria Jnr has suggested frontline public servants refusing to be vaccinated to submit their resignation letters.
Mr Sogavare in his national address yesterday, said, “As Prime Minister of our nation that is trying to ensure we protect not only ourselves form covid-19 but also protect those around us especially people under 18 years of age that cannot be vaccinated and those living with existing diseases, I am extremely disappointed that many public servants working in front line ministries and agencies have not turned up to be vaccinated against covid-19.
“I am disappointed to learn that we have only vaccinated around 600 people in the first three days of vaccination in Honiara.
“We will not be able to protect this country from covid-19 if most of our population that should be vaccinated are not vaccinated.
“I am extremely disappointed that most of our front liners in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the National Referral Hospital, Honiara City Council Health and our front-line health personnel from Guadalcanal province who have been identified top priority for vaccination had not turned up for vaccinations,” he said.
Sogavare said there had been a lot of questions raised – why vaccinate when there is no active case of covid-19 or community transmission in the country.
“As I stated before, if we wait for community transmission to occur before we vaccinate it would be too late to stop the virus from entering and taking our hold in the country.
“One main reason for vaccinating our population is to stop community transmission from happening by reducing the ability of the virus to enter our country and by containing it,” he said.
Sogavare said a fully vaccinated population will also ensure the virus does not spread into the community.
“Some people are also wondering whether the vaccine we are using had been approved by the World Health Organisation.
“Let me assure the nation once again that the AstraZeneca Vaccine we are using had been approved by WHO on February 16, 2021,” he said.
Mr Choudhri said the health team have been reaching out to front line workers but misconception still remains.
He said vaccination is not an outbreak intervention, it will have very limited roll once the outbreak starts.
Mr Rodgers said the Prime Minister is not giving an option but a directive, meaning when the leader said you do this to protect yourself, protect your family and protect the nation then it doesn’t look good if those employed in public services do not take heed.
Rodgers said the public service’s role is very clear – “you are coming in to serve the country and at the same time to protect the country and protect yourself”.
He adds, for those that do not come for vaccination they will be shifted from front line work because they are not inoculated, they will not be able to participate in front line work.
Rodgers stressed there would be legal issues because the country has a State of Public Emergency (SOPE) and therefore if it is an order under the SOPE then it becomes an offence for not doing things they are not supposed do during the SOPE.
“There is a duty of care, so when you are making your decision think about the implication of your decision,” he said.
Attorney General John Muria Junior said in terms of legality, liability is one issue.
“Solomon Islands government provides a service to full country so it must ensure the public servants are protected and its public servant’s duty also to protect the people of this country.
“In carrying out their duty of care the government has asked its workers to get their jabs. And if you know that you one of the public servants there are certain rules in placed by the government that you have to comply with.
“With this the government has put a rule for frontline workers to be vaccinated and when a person breaches the rule it is called insubordination. Hence, if you do not want to comply with government rules then submit your resignation letter.
“The other thing is that if you do not want to receive the vaccine and want to be part of the front-line workers and you happened to contract the virus should the government be responsible to care for you after disobeying its rules, I don’t think so. Therefore, if you want to work for government adhere to what the government says by getting the vaccine and continue serving this country,” he said.