Effective Friday, October 1st, anyone entering a Government building or office is required to show proof of immunization or a negative COVID-19 test, and while the public is still getting used to that, the Nurses Association of Belize says that they are opposing the mandate.
In a recent interview with the Reporter, the association’s president, Darrell Spencer, told us that they are opposing the “vaccine pass” on the basis of patient confidentiality. “A person’s health status is their own and that of their medical professional and now you are passing a mandate that requires you to present your information to a shop/storekeeper. So there is something constitutionally wrong with that,” explained Spencer.
Additionally, Spencer cited the need for more public consultation and education so that the public who have legitimate queries and concerns about the vaccine are given a chance to have those addressed prior to making a decision. Spencer additionally noted that there are still concerns in the public that the vaccine is not proven to be 100% effective and so it is quite natural that there is hesitancy among the public. He, therefore, believes that the government should not have been so quick to move to this juncture since even with the vaccine, persons are still able to catch, transmit and suffer symptoms of the virus.
Instead of moving in that direction, Spencer said that the Association would have liked to see the reinforcement of health measures that were instituted last year which he believes were the reason why the country’s infection rate dropped from nearly 5,000 to less than 10 in just a matter of months.
“So we know that the physical distancing works, we know that the mask work, as well as the hand washing. These things have been proven to work. You started to give a vaccine and now people are becoming more relaxed believing that they are less likely to become infected or transmit the disease and hence we are having another spike. I am not saying that the vaccine is causing the spike but can you not realize or connect the dots. If we took it down from close to five thousand to nearly 0 without a vaccine and now you are telling me that the vaccine is here to help, then I have to question that.”
In closing, Spencer noted that the key to curbing the infections in the country simply boils down to enforcing the regulations, reminding the public, and educating them that the vaccines do not stop you from getting and transmitting the virus. Spencer maintains that the Government did not consult with the Association prior to making their decision.