–persons found forging vaccination documents will face full force of the law, Dr. Anthony says
MINISTER of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, has said his ministry is working on a system to generate digital versions of the COVID-19 vaccination card.
Dr. Anthony, in an invited comment on Wednesday, said the digital document would be an alternative to the physical cards and would afford persons easier access, especially when having to show proof of vaccination when visiting businesses and government ministries and agencies.
Changes to the existing COVID-19 guidelines, which were instituted on Sunday, saw casinos, betting shops and cinemas being allowed to operate at 40 per cent capacity.
The other noticeable adjustment to the measures is that patrons are required to produce their vaccination cards to verify that they have been vaccinated- that is, have at least one dose of a recognised COVID-19 vaccine- and must wear their face masks properly, at all times.
In a move to further protect people from the spread of the virus, the guidelines state that unvaccinated people will only be allowed access to in-person services at any government agency or ministry by appointment.
Conversely, members of the public who are vaccinated will be allowed to access those services as per normal.
According to Dr. Anthony, the idea to create a digital version of the card stemmed from the consideration of persons having to constantly walk with their vaccination cards.
Although there is no definitive timeline for the completion and release of digital cards, the Health Minister affirmed that employees of the Ministry of Work are in the process of creating electronic copies of the cards as part of the first step towards digitising the system.
He explained that the new system would be calibrated in a way to detect cases of forgery, given that there have been reports of persons attempting to forge the cards and corrupt the process.
“We have had reports of persons who are forging the card and if we find anyone forging the card, they will face the law because we have a law that deals with forgery, and my understanding is if you are caught then you could get as much as three years in prison.
“If you didn’t get vaccinated, why would you get a card to say that you’re vaccinated. The vaccines are free. It’s there, go get it,” Minister Anthony posited.
Several businesses over the past few days have mandated that their employees be vaccinated or provide a weekly negative COVID-19 test before entering the workplace.
In a statement issued last Tuesday, the Giftland Group of Companies said that it is critical that all people in the workforce get vaccinated against COVID-19 because of highly contagious variants. The company also pointed to the fact that COVID-19-related hospitalisations and deaths are on the rise throughout the country.
“It has become a worldwide known fact that 99.5 per cent of all persons in hospitals and [who are] dying from the dreaded COVID viruses are unvaccinated,” the Giftland Group said.
The company said that its decision was in keeping with continued efforts to protect its employees and patrons, and to create a safe work and shopping environment for all Guyanese.
Giftland’s announcement followed the release of a strong statement by the Private Sector Commission (PSC), calling for its members to mandate vaccination of its employees.
“The Private Sector Commission embraces and recommends that its member companies require that all of its employees, who refuse to be vaccinated, must provide evidence of a medically-current COVID-19 negative test from infection before reporting to work, while continuing to encourage all of its employees to become vaccinated,” the PSC said.
Further, the PSC urged that the government makes it mandatory for all medical and security personnel in frontline contact with other persons to either be vaccinated or provide evidence of a medically-current COVID-19 negative test. “… and that all places providing hospitality and entertainment services, including restaurants, require evidence of either vaccination or a medically-current COVID-19 negative test from its customers in order for them to receive service,” the PSC added.
The PSC also lauded the government’s sterling efforts to obtain vaccinations for people in an effort to achieve herd immunity for the nation.
As it is now, Guyana is one of the very few countries that have managed to secure enough vaccines to inoculate its entire adult population. Notwithstanding this feat, there are some Guyanese who are still reluctant to take the vaccine.