Senator calls for delay in the implementation of COVID vaccination mandate

Sen. Frank Blas Jr. (file photo)

Senator Frank Blas Jr. has asked for a delay in the implementation of the COVID vaccination mandate to provide the time necessary to address the valid concerns brought by members of the island’s workforce who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Specifically, Blas is asking for a delay in the implementation of Executive Order 2021-17, which requires GovGuam executive branch workers to vaccinate against COVID-19, and Executive Order 2021-20, which requires employees in establishments to get vaccinated or be subjected to weekly testing to keep their jobs.

In a letter to the governor, Blas said he continues to hear from countless constituents who work within the government and across different industries that feel blindsided by these mandates.

“Regardless of the legality surrounding this mandatory vaccination, the community has valid concerns and fears about who will lose their jobs if they do not take the vaccine. Issues of particular concern are from pregnant women and those with existing medical conditions or religious objections,” Blas said.

Furthermore, the senator said there seems to be confusion over how the mandate will be enforced that may result in consequential discriminatory actions.

“While I recognize the importance of vaccines and respect the rights of our community stakeholders and the thousands who keep Guam going, I strongly encourage you to re-examine this requirement with more significant engagement and input from the members of our island’s workforce and be open to the flexibility from those who have legitimate objections,” the senator said.

He added: “I believe there is a better path forward that includes more attention, consideration, and flexibility surrounding the concerns and uneasiness of our community and the impact such a mandate will have on our workforce, economy, and the spirit of inafamaolek we hold dear to our hearts. It is understood that this pandemic is forcing hard decisions for families, our island community, and businesses across our island. However, I believe the rush and poor execution in requiring COVID vaccination is unwise, unfair, and confusing for the men and women who have been employed without incident and have shared in sacrifice over the last year and a half during the pandemic.”