(CMR) Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said unvaccinated government employees in Trinidad and Tobago should get vaccinated against COVID-19, or they could lose their salaries.
Public sector workers have until mid-January to get vaccinated, or they will not be allowed to return to work.
According to Trinidad Express, Rowley said this was not a vaccine mandate but a move to make Government offices into “safe zones.” He said the decision was prompted by the high number of daily COVID-19 deaths and infections.
Since the pandemic, Trinidad had its deadliest day, with 33 recorded deaths on Friday.
“We have come to the point where the Government will have to take certain actions,” Rowley said.
“I have had extensive discussions with the Attorney General and his support team in his ministry and his advisers outside, and we will now move to a situation of insisting that people in Trinidad and Tobago acknowledge the Government’s policy that vaccination is our best way of dealing with the carrier of death and destruction. But we’ll try to make it as palatable as possible. We will attempt to encourage and increase the level of vaccination,” the Prime Minister said.
“The Government being the largest employer of labor, so the Government’s workplace is going to change,” he continued.
Rowley said exemptions would only be made for people who have medical reasons not to get vaccinated.
He said those who choose not to be vaccinated will still be employed but will not be paid.
The Prime Minister, who expressed disappointment with the low level of vaccination in the public sector, said he expected the private sector to follow suit.
According to Trinidad Express, Rowley said just 50 percent of the Tobago Regional Health Authority staff was vaccinated. At the same time, at the North Central and North West Regional health authorities, it was 48 and 45 percent, respectively.
Only 49 percent of workers in the police service were vaccinated. The Prison Service has a vaccination rate of just 35 percent, and only 30 percent of the Defence Force has been vaccinated. Immigration is at 25 percent, and the Fire Service is 20 percent.
“These are Government employees who, for some reason, decided that they are not going to take part in the national program to protect the national population from what, in effect, is a killing virus,” Rowley said.