Last Updated on Wednesday, 4 August 2021, 8:24 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) on Wednesday vowed to resist any attempt to make COVID-19 vaccination of teachers mandatory before they can return to the classroom, just days after President Irfaan Ali ruled out exposing “children to unvaccinated teachers.”
“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.
The Ministry of Health has already stated that it “has no plans to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory.”
The GTU made known its position, in light of recent comments by President Irfaan Ali in which he sought to cajole teachers to take the jab. He had said that, “teachers have the greatest responsibility to lead and I’m hoping that they provide that leadership and that they get vaccinated. We surely cannot expose the children to unvaccinated teachers and I’m sure that the teachers are responsible enough to understand this and understand the importance of vaccination.”
According to the union, GTU has always supported the free choice in taking the vaccine and so will neither advise against nor enforce 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, organization or body to subject you to a tyrannical decision, the decision is yours,” the union said.
The GTU wants awareness campaigns that match the zeal of the vaccination drives to assure its members and all Guyanese during this trying time.
The union said the 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 GTU said.