NMA, NUT differ on Edo threat to bar unvaccinated doctors, teachers

The Edo State Government, on Thursday, said any health worker who refused to be vaccinated would not be allowed to attend to any patient.

This is just as it issued a stern warning to teachers and other public servants to get themselves vaccinated with at least a dose of the available vaccines, saying they may be prevented from performing their official duties.

While the Nigerian Medical Association applauded the move, the Nigeria Union of Teachers opposed compulsory vaccination for teachers.

Issuing the warning while briefing journalists on the COVID-19 update in Benin City, the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Osamwonyi Irowa, said the duty of the state government was to protect the public.”

Irowa stated, “The state government is giving a period of grace till the middle of this month to start maximum enforcement and we are starting with our home, that is, workers in government facilities, including teachers and health workers; they will be made to comply based on whether they want to continue working or not.

“Teachers are more at risk of COVID-19 than the children and we don’t want them to infect the children they are teaching, who will in turn take it home to their parents.

“So, the government is coming out clearly on enforcement of all the preventive measures, including vaccination and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Those who do not perform these cannot come into government properties.

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“Health workers are not free from COVID-19 and we have been infected. The rules that will be enforced in Edo State will also apply to health workers and not just teachers and civil servants. Health workers, who have not been vaccinated, will not be allowed to treat other people in Edo State, because you may infect your patients.”

Speaking on the action of the government, the Edo State Chairman of the NMA, Harrison Omokhua, said the move was in order.

He said, “I don’t see anything wrong in it; we also do not want these health workers to pose a risk to their patients by not getting vaccinated.

“I commend the governor for the steps taken so far to check the spread of the virus and also avoid people dying.

But the state Chairman of the NUT, Pius Okhueleigbe, said the vaccination should not be made mandatory for the teachers.

He said, “We are adult and should be allowed to make our choices. It should not be imposed on my members. Those of them who want to take the vaccine should do so, while those who don’t want to should be allowed to go about their duties.

“I know the teachers will be having contact with the students but that is not a reason to make vaccination compulsory. Those who are interested should take while those who do not should not be forced to take.”

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