No jab no job can become a condition of employment in certain sectors, where persons are vulnerable because of their age or health condition. In the UK, the government has decreed that staff working in care homes should be vaccinated by 11th November this year. This policy has not been without controversy, with some health care workers preferring to leave the job rather than be vaccinated, causing a serious staffing shortage in the sector.
So, should we adopt a policy of ensuring all staff at our hospitals be vaccinated? Some medical doctors have held the view that we should because unvaccinated staff are placing patients in the hospital at risk. But who is really more at risk? Is it the staff or the patients? Interestingly some work has been done in the United Kingdom by Cambridge University, which suggests that staff are significantly more likely to be infected by patients than the other way round. Of course, no analysis has been done of the data as it relates to Saint Lucia. If we are to draw on the work done by Cambridge University, enforcing the jab for hospital staff to protect hospital patients should not be the main argument, because it is not supported by research. Nevertheless, staff need to be vaccinated, albeit, for more cogent public and personal reasons: to avoid further compromising the health system by the loss of staff because of hospitalization and death.
Some have argued that being vaccinated does not prevent the transmission of the virus. While that is true, being vaccinated significantly reduces the chance of infection, and if you are not infected you cannot infect others. The issue of vaccination is not about eliminating the virus but minimizing the risk of wide-spread infection, to allow for a normal way of life.
So much about successfully managing this pandemic is about having the information from research to inform interventions, whether it is about educating the public about the need to be vaccinated or instituting other risk mitigation measures. The interventions to date have been mundane- changing curfew times, banning alcohol sales, and limiting the gathering of people- and does not suggest a serious analysis of data, which can inform more laser-focused interventions like identifying the main sources of viral spread and disabling them.
It is time for a visible change in approach in the management of this health and economic crisis if only to win public confidence that the government is doing all it possibly can to win the war against this life-threatening enemy, the Coronavirus.