Vaccine pass deal now covers workers in subsidized welfare units

The vaccine pass deal was extended to workers in subsidized or subsidized social service units and organizations from Friday, April 1 despite expressed rejection by the union and workers.

The Department of Social Welfare sent a letter to a non-governmental organization on Friday advising them of the final details in accordance with the latest regimen of the arrangement announced on March 20.

Social workers and welfare unit employees must have received the first dose of the covid-19 vaccine in order to go to work. They should also receive the second dose at the end of May and their third dose six months later.

The scheme does not apply to holders of a vaccination exemption certificate issued by a doctor. Still, they have to undergo weekly tests.

Still, it appears not all social workers agreed with the arrangement, according to a recent poll.

In early March, the General Union of Social Workers of Hong Kong surveyed 280 social workers through questionnaires and found that 106 of them, or 37.9%, had not yet received the vaccine. Among them, 74 said they did not intend to be vaccinated against Covid in the coming month.

The results also showed that 147 workers said the organizations they worked for had asked unvaccinated workers to quit, while 218 workers did not know any of their labor rights if they had to quit on their own.

A social worker named Poon criticized that the arrangement was no different from ‘blackmailing’ him into getting the vaccine, adding that whether or not to receive the vaccination should be a personal choice.

Cheung Chi-wai, the union’s vice president, suggested suspending the arrangement and offered regular rapid antigen testing as an alternative.

Third Side lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen said he feared welfare organizations could be understaffed if workers had to resign because they had not received the vaccine.

Another lawmaker, Bill Tang Ka-piu, meanwhile criticized unvaccinated social workers who had no social responsibility because they refused to be vaccinated to protect the weak and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the government has only urged social workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and service users, saying the vaccine can help reduce deaths and critical cases.

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