Government employees who work themselves will be required to vaccinate against COVID-19 Pursuant to an executive order from the Governor Pedro Pierluisi which will come into effect on August 16.
In this way, central government employees become the second group during the two weeks in which vaccination is mandatory. last week , Ministry of Health Authorize students and staff in schools and universities to provide proof of vaccination to enter educational centers in person.
As with the education sector, public servants may be exempt from the executive order if they present a document proving a medical reason for not being vaccinated, or an affidavit signed by a spiritual leader indicating religious reasons for refusing a vaccination.
However, in the case of public sector workers who provide a valid excuse for not being vaccinated, they are required to submit a negative Covid-19 diagnostic test result weekly.
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According to Pierluisi, if an employee refuses to submit the test result, he will have an alternative to exhaust the licenses to which he is entitled. If the leave balance is fully exhausted, the employee will be granted unpaid leave which will be extended until the end of the emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I act as an employer of the entire executive branch, since it is my duty and authority to take these administrative measures which apply to all employees. In other words, I set an example,” Pierluisi said in a conference with the Minister of Health, Carlos Melado.
The governor explained that the executive order will currently be applied to 65 central government agencies, and therefore will not include public institutions, municipalities or the private sector. Pierluisi couldn’t say how many of the roughly 90,000 employees interviewed by 65 agencies had yet to be vaccinated, but he estimated that based on public vaccination statistics, it should be about 30%, or about 27,000.
However, the president is betting that with the measures taken by the executive branch, both public companies and municipalities will adopt similar measures in the near future. Likewise, he affirmed his expectation that the same would happen with the private sector, as well as in the legislative and judicial branches.
“I believe that many employers will influence the same standard. Here the legal study was conducted, the employer has the ability to do this. In order we mention even cases of Supreme Court of the United States, cases of two Federal Courts, which referred to Department of Justice Federal, which referred to Job Opportunities Committee. We cite everything because that is what will protect an employer claiming what I am claiming. I know, based on the legal advice I have received, that as a business owner I can take this action and it is completely legal,” the CEO confirmed.
However, Pierluisi hinted that he “does not rule out” more aggressive measures in the future, depending on the evolution of the epidemic and the rate of vaccination.
However, he avoided answering the extent to which the government could dictate the vaccination of sectors other than public servants.
Better not to speculate. Now this is the step to take. Usually this is how I make my decisions, step by step, and this is the step to take in this moment. Although I give it by recommendation, I am sure that this policy will be followed at the level of public companies. I am also reasonably convinced that the vast majority of mayors and mayors will follow the same pattern to protect the people. The CEO said the one thing I can’t assure you of is how the private sector will respond, but I dare believe many will follow that example.”
At the press conference, it was specified that from August 16, central government employees must present their vaccination card with proof of the first dose. After that, they will have until September 30 to provide proof that they have completed the course.
Impact on the most backward population?
Although the executive order focuses on public servants, the truth is that the group furthest in vaccination is made up of the population between the ages of 12 and 29, most of whom are people who would not be affected by the decree.
In the 20-29 age group, 60% of men received at least one dose of the vaccine, as did 67% of women. In the 15-19 age group, the figures were 65% and 62% for females, respectively, according to the latest state report. Scientific Alliance Who advises the government.
At the end of the press conference, Melado insisted on completing the executive order with the administrative order issued by the Ministry of Health last week, which makes vaccination compulsory in schools and universities.
“We will definitely continue to promote everything we can. We continue with educational campaigns. There are many wings that are trying to guide young people so that they can be vaccinated,” Melado said.
In terms of the overall population—which includes minors ages 0-11, who are still unable to be vaccinated—66.6% of Puerto Ricans received at least one dose and 57.8% completed the course.
Would the Ministry of Health prefer a stricter executive order?
“The law (Organic Department of Health) states that I must do everything possible in the event of a pandemic to ensure the health of the people of Puerto Rico. Whatever I know I can do, I will do. It is clearly up to the lawyers and the governor to devise legal strategies,” the secretary said. .