Any civil servants who decline to be vaccinated against Covid-19 may risk losing their jobs due to colleagues’ concerns about interacting closely with those who remain unprotected, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned.
In an audio message on April 6, Hun Sen elaborated that those who had not been vaccinated were at higher risks of contracting the novel coronavirus and transmitting it to others.
The prime minister said that with vaccinations being administered to civil servants at the national and sub-national levels in recent days, he had noticed two types of people.
The first type, he said, wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible because they were worried about what might happen in the absence of that precaution. The second were those who were avoiding being vaccinated, purportedly for fears of side-effects.
“I would like to make it clear that vaccination is only on a voluntary basis. But in the future, vaccination will become an obligation for some jobs, especially for members of the armed forces and civil servants,” he said.
“I would like to inform civil servants who don’t want to be vaccinated that once government institutions reach the point where they have administered vaccinations up to 70 per cent of their workforce, then those who have failed to be vaccinated may find themselves out of work.
“Just get vaccinated to protect your own lives and join in the fight against Covid-19 ... or the continuation of your services in the employ of the state may no longer be necessary,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen also requested that all ministers tally the totals for fully vaccinated officials, those who still need a second dose and those who remain unvaccinated.
He ordered all ministries to only recruit fully vaccinated officials into the state employment framework with exceptions to all of these policies only granted to those persons who cannot be vaccinated due to a pre-existing health condition – as long as they can provide a medical certificate proving as such.
He also suggested that in the future, in addition to a medical certificate, there should be a card people can carry to identify themselves as having been vaccinated against Covid-19 as well.
“I’m not trying to cause tensions between the vaccinated and unvaccinated people and I don’t want there to be discrimination, but all of this is to get everyone to do their bit to stop Covid-19 . . . No one will suffer any penalties without first being given a warning, but after that it is their choice,” Hun Sen said.
Minister of Civil Service Prum Sokha sent out a letter to all ministries and institutions asking that they determine the number of civil servants and contract officials under their purview who are yet to get vaccinated and submit it to him prior to April 12.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post on April 7 he had requested that the government use its resources to spread the word, educate and inform citizens about the importance of vaccinations as widely as possible before instituting any punitive measures.
“The [government] should do more to provide reliable information – from trusted outside sources with relevant technical expertise – about the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations,” he said.
Chanroeun added that if the government was too tough on those who chose not to get vaccinated, it would affect the rights and freedoms of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution and also run contrary to the advice of the World Health Organisation, which has recommended that vaccinations be carried out on a voluntary basis.
The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training on April 7 began its vaccination drive with officials expecting to see up to 3,800 workers get Covid-19 jabs on the first day.
“On April 8, we will open four vaccination sites for workers . . . We plan to accelerate the vaccinations to a rate of 7,000 workers a day this week, with a goal of 12,000 workers a day starting next week,” said labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on April 7 that a total of 1,025 officials and other contracted staff members had been vaccinated. He noted that 125 people were not allowed to be vaccinated due to health problems while 32 had not been vaccinated due to their currently being away on work-related assignments for the ministry.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap said that in principle vaccinations would be carried out on a voluntary basis, but it might be necessary for some individuals to be vaccinated based on the conditions of their employment.