SPMC may not renew services of unvaccinated workers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 November) — The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) may deny renewal of the services of its workers who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as it is contemplating on adopting the “mandatory vaccination” policy of the local government of Davao, SPMC chief Dr. Ricardo Audan said.

Audan told a virtual press briefer Friday that  only 67 out of 5,686 workers or 1.17% are unvaccinated as of Friday, including workers who had just given birth and several others belonging to a religious sect apprehensive about vaccination.

Medical workers prepare a dose of the Sinovac Biotech CoronaVac vaccine during the start of the Covid-19 vaccination program at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City on Friday, 5 Mar 2021. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Inoculation for priority list A1 or health workers started in the city eight months ago, on March 5.

Audan said hospital workers should get vaccinated to protect themselves, other health workers, and their patients from the infection.

“We are contemplating on that. If you are working in the hospital, you should be protected and you have to be a role model to the patients. The discussion and the issue of non-renewal is likely to happen,” he added.

He said the hospital will not terminate outright the hospital workers.

In the meantime, Audan added, unvaccinated workers should willingly submit themselves for weekly swab test beginning November 9, “instead of terminating their services.”

He added that the SPMC will shoulder the cost of the swab test until December 2021 but starting January 2022, the weekly swab test will be undertaken at the expense of the unvaccinated workers.

“(The figure) is very minor but we are trying our best to convince them. We will not force them to get vaccinated but they will be swabbed weekly to protect our vaccinated personnel. If you test positive, you will be put in isolation,” he added.

As of Friday, Audan said the SPMC listed nine hospital workers who tested positive for COVID-19 but added they are all mild cases.

As of October 28, the city government reported a total of 882,818 individuals who received the first dose and 788,001 who are fully vaccinated or 66% of its target of 1.2 million to attain “herd immunity.”

The local government has 23 operational vaccination sites, according to the local government.

Executive Order 45, signed by Mayor Sara Duterte last September 15, mandates that all City Hall employees, including plantilla, job order, contract of service, and volunteers must be fully vaccinated on or before November 30.

Sanctions will be imposed on employees who refuse to be vaccinated, according to the order. For plantilla personnel, they will be held administratively liable for insubordination and will be penalized by suspension of one month and one day to six months for the first offense and dismissal from the service for the second offense, pursuant to Section 50 (2) of the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in Civil Service.

The order, however, is silent as to the sanctions on job order, contract of service workers, and volunteers, who refuse vaccination. It merely provides that the “City Government of Davao shall prioritize the hiring of job order, contract of service, and volunteers who are fully vaccinated.”  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)