Union against mandatory vaccination for Guyanese teachers
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The Guyana Teachers Union Wednesday said it will resist any attempt by the authorities to make the vaccination of teachers mandatory ahead of the new school term in September.
“Teachers! We will stand with you should there be any attempt to make vaccination mandatory for returning to the classroom,” the union said in a statement.
Earlier this week, President Dr Irfaan Ali urged teachers to show leadership and get vaccinated as the government prepares to reopen schools next month for face-to-face teaching.
“Because vaccines inoculate everyone against this dreaded deadly virus, all of us should be troubled by those who refuse to be vaccinated. The unvaccinated are now as deadly as the virus itself for they are not only susceptible to infection, they will carry it…the government has a responsibility to defend the health of all,” Ali said.
“We cannot expose children to unvaccinated teachers,” Ali said at a news conference immediately following his national address marking the first anniversary of the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government.
While he did not explicitly say vaccination for teachers would be mandatory, he did announce that “teachers are responsible enough” to understand the need for vaccination.
But, in its statement, the union said it has always supported free choice in taking the vaccine and so will neither advise against nor enforce the inoculation of teachers.
“We believe that the vaccine must remain voluntary and not made mandatory, neither explicitly stated nor implicitly imposed. We urge all teachers and right-thinking Guyanese to resist any attempt by any individual, organisation or body to subject you to a tyrannical decision, the decision is yours.”
The union is calling for the mounting of awareness campaigns that match the zeal of the vaccination drives, adding that COVID-19 vaccines are new and so the hesitancy expressed by many worldwide is understood.
“Our teachers are no different since some of our members have reservations due to personal illnesses and/or fear,” the union said.
Guyana has recorded 22,523 cases and 541 deaths as a result of the pandemic.
The first case was recorded in March last year.