ATTORNEY Wayne Munroe, QC, questioned yesterday how government would justify the enforcement of a mandatory vaccination rule for healthcare workers, telling The Tribune that to do so would not be legal. Mr Munroe, who is also the Progressive Liberal Party’s candidate for Free Town, said to implement such a policy would be “foolish”.
“How could you justify it?” he asked in an interview with The Tribune. “You have a right to security of your person, a right to freedom of movement, how can you justify doing that in the interest of public health?
“You can always justify quarantining infected people, but you cannot justify doing things to healthy people. Article 29.2 of the constitution is applicable only insofar as what you’re doing is reasonably justifiable.
“Beyond that, it would be a foolish policy. Can you provide any disincentives and say, oh a nurse or doctor who doesn’t take the vaccine doesn’t have a job? Let’s assume that’s 60 or 70 percent of them. Who will look after the hospital people if all of them are out of a job? So, it seems self-defeating.”
On Friday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan asserted that mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers is under consideration. It comes at a time when many healthcare workers are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine amid widespread vaccine hesitancy. Ninety-two people are in hospital with virus related illnesses.
The resurgence has led to a strain on public health facilities and the reimposition of harsher restrictions in New Providence, Grand Bahama along with North and Central Eleuthera, including Harbour Island. As a result, recommendations have been put forward to consider making vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers, Dr McMillan said Friday.
“I do not have the exact percentage, but we recognise the need for that grouping to be on board with vaccinations and in our discussions, I would say deliberations in the health EOC (Emergency Operations Centre), a recommendation would have been put forward for consideration of mandatory vaccinations of healthcare workers because of the significance of that group,” Dr McMillan said during a Ministry of Health press conference.
“Now, there are other things that must be considered because that grouping is the grouping that influences whether or not others, we recommend that you have a healthcare with your provider, so we have to work closely with the health provider grouping to understand their concerns…so that’s something we’re working on now and I’m sure we’ll be in a position to update”.
On Sunday, Bahamas Nurses Union president Amancha Williams criticised the suggestion insisting the decision to take the jab should be a personal choice.
Asked how she felt about the possibility of vaccinations being made mandatory for healthcare workers, Ms Williams said health officials could not make a decision like that without “consulting the union”.