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Ministry chides firm over Covid jab

‘Astra-Zeneca vaccine not mandatory’

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Denis Kalekeni

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has reiterated the government’s position that no one is forced to take Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in the country.

Kandodo Chiponda was commenting on an alleged memo from Sunbird Hotels and Resorts, in which the firm warns that any employee who will not get the jab by May 24 2021 risks not being allowed to work.

According to the alleged memo, those not vaccinated pose a big risk to fellow staff, guests and clients.

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“Any person who cannot be vaccinated on the advice of a doctor must provide written proof from government authorised doctor and beyond this date [May 24 2021] no one will be allowed to work without the vaccination certificate,” the memo reads.

Sunbird spokesperson Temwa Kanjadza, Chief Executive Officer Yusuf Olera and Board Chairperson George Partridge were not immediately available for comment.

However, one senior official within Sunbird management authenticated the internal memorandum.

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Reacting, Kandodo Chiponda said, much as they are encouraging Malawians to take the vaccine for the country to return to normalcy quickly, people are encouraged to make the decision voluntarily.

“Every member of the public is being advised that if you get the vaccine, you have a better chance of fighting Covid. As such, we are encouraging individuals to get the vaccine to boost their immune system but it is not mandatory,” Kandodo Chiponda said.

Meanwhile, Malawi Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Denis Kalekeni has said the union cannot judge Sunbird.

Kalekeni added that companies were putting in place different measures to sustain their businesses.

“Businesses have suffered a lot due to Covid and any employer will employ mechanisms of ensuring that the working environment is favourable and is not posing a threat and one of such issues involves ensuring that every worker at premises is fully protected,” he said.

The Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine does not shield a person from contracting or spreading the virus but reduces the risk of being hospitalised.

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