OBA says frontline workers should be ordered to get coronavirus vaccine
Frontline professionals should be forced to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Opposition said yesterday.
Scott Pearman, the acting leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, said that the Government’s campaign was “not working” and appealed for tougher measures to boost vaccination numbers.
The figure for full vaccination stands at 66.5 per cent of the population – well below the 87.5 per cent needed to achieve herd immunity.
Vaccination rates have also tailed off in the last two months.
Mr Pearman said: “Combating this pandemic is not easy, but we must also adapt when challenges develop.
“The current plan does not appear to be working – more people have tragically died in the past few weeks than through many months of the pandemic.
Just 62 per cent of BHB’s 1,800 staff are immunised – 4.5 per cent less than the national average.
Mr Pearman said: “Frontline workers, who work with the most vulnerable in the community, such as teachers and those employed in all areas of the healthcare sector, should be recipients of mandatory vaccinations.
“We would be supportive of a change in Government policy in this area.”
But he added: “The OBA does not believe the Government should force everyone to be vaccinated, especially since not everyone can be.
“The OBA has consistently encouraged individuals to speak to their doctors about the vaccine.
“We urge those who can take the vaccine to do so. It protects our community as a whole and remains our single best defence against this deadly virus.”
Mr Pearman said: “We also appreciate the vaccine is not a magic bullet.
“Everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must behave responsibly and follow health precautions.
“This issue must not be allowed to divide us further. The virus is our common enemy and we must work together to defeat it.”
The three Opposition senators used last week’s sitting of the Upper House to ask the Government to to take a more aggressive approach to pushing its vaccination programme.
Marcus Jones said: “I was not quick to get a vaccination right away – I’ve never had a flu shot in all my life.
“But I realised that my own individual needs were insufficient for me not to.”
Robin Tucker added: “Our best defence against Covid is being vaccinated. We are now beyond the niceties.
“We can ill afford to continue to stroke people in the hope they will do what is necessary to protect themselves and this community.”
Ben Smith, the OBA senate leader, said that “the minority should not be the loudest voice in the room”
He added: “It’s time for our leadership to speak up and say we’ve had enough.
“The silence cannot continue any longer. That’s our problem.
“Where we are right now, that minority is impacting the majority because they don’t want to follow the rules.”
None of the Government’s five senators discussed mandatory vaccinations at the sitting.
A Government spokeswoman said last night that the administration’s position was “unchanged”.
She added that increases in vaccination rates showed that “the message is getting to those who have yet to make a choice”
The spokeswoman said: “There is no question that for their own protection and for the protection of those with whom they regularly interact, persons working in certain settings have a duty – both moral and professional – to strongly consider the vaccination option.
“People are making informed choices and we ask all persons who have not yet taken the vaccine to speak to their doctor so that they can do their part to move Bermuda beyond this pandemic.”