AG: No decision on mandatory covid19 vaccination

Supermarket workers wait to be vaccinated at Centre Pointe Mall in Chaguanas on Tuesday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Supermarket workers wait to be vaccinated at Centre Pointe Mall in Chaguanas on Tuesday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi says Government has not decided whether to make the taking of covid19 vaccines mandatory under law.

At a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Al-Rawi was asked if the public health regulations would be amended to make covid19 vaccinations mandatory, similar to the mandatory use of face masks in public.

He said, "There is an interesting line of case authority which has come out from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

"There is a very active conversation on whether there is a public interest that would prevail in ensuring that people who can be vaccinated are vaccinated."

In April, the ECHR ruled that compulsory vaccination can be considered "necessary in a democratic society." The case involved several families from the Czech Republic whose children had been refused admission to school because they had not been fully vaccinated against nine diseases including poliomyelitis, hepatitis B and tetanus. One parent was fined for the failure to comply.

The case revolved around Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which establishes the "right to respect for private and family life" and the corresponding "no interference from public authorities."

The ECHR said in its ruling, "Vaccination protects both those who receive it and also those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and are therefore reliant on herd immunity for protection against serious contagious diseases."

Al-Rawi said, "The Cabinet has not discussed this matter nor has advice been formalised in relation to this.

"All that I will say for now is that people are encouraged to vaccinate so that we can protect the nation as we move ahead."

In a separate interview with Newsday, Labour Minister Stephen McClashie said his ministry is examining the issue of vaccinations and its relation to employees and employers.

He said, "The ministry and standing Industrial Relations Advisory Committee are currently drafting a policy for consideration. This should be available in the very near future. So yes it is very much high on our agenda.”

Asked to elaborate on what this policy could involve, McClashie replied, "I do not wish to pre-empt the work of the committee which will be based on international best practice.

“I will wait for their findings and recommendations."

During a webinar hosted by the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce in February, Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix said employers cannot make it mandatory for workers to be vaccinated.

"In industrial relations, an employer cannot unilaterally alter or change the existing terms and conditions of employment of workers, especially if there is a recognised majority union present at the establishment."

She said if a person "is not employed at the establishment but is seeking employment, an employer can insist that the individual gets a vaccine in order to obtain employment at the establishment."

Thomas-Felix said the person can then decide to become vaccinated or not be employed at that establishment on those terms.


"AG: No decision on mandatory covid19 vaccination"

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