Two nurses attached to Diamond Health Centre on the East Bank of Demerara and a Screening Personnel attached to the Ministry of Health were today charged with fraud over their alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccination cards.
The three healthcare workers were nabbed last week during a Police sting operation after investigators received information about the racket of the nurses selling the vaccine cards to persons who were unvaccinated.
Those charged today were 21-year-old nurse Olivia Bonus, 29-year-old nurse Teneka Pollard and 32-year-old Ministry of Health screening personnel, Andel Valentine.
They were each granted bail to the tune of $150,000.
The sale of the cards reportedly took place over a nine-month period, dating back to early March when the vaccination process in Guyana was getting started.
News Source understands that two forged cards were recovered during the sting operation and investigators suspect that hundreds of cards may have been sold by the trio during the past months.
One of the nurses reportedly admitted to selling more than 50 vaccination cards at a cost of $5000 per card.
The three are expected back in court early in the new year.
There have been a number of other healthcare workers charged in recent months over the sale of vaccination cards.
The Ministry of Health is very concerned about the sale of the cards. Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony during his COVID-19 update today said it is a very serious offence since it is also intended to mislead the health authorities about the vaccination status of a person. He made it very clear that those found guilty of the crime will be fired by the Ministry of Health.
“If anybody is guilty, they will have to deal with the penalty that is our law, so that’s the first thing and the second thing is that its also a breach of professional conduct, and nurses are guided by our nursing laws and again we will be taking stringent action by sending this information to the Nursing Council for them to act because we cannot have nurses who are found in a breach like this. This runs counter to the profession so that’s another avenue. And, of course, if they are guilty they will not be working with the Ministry anymore”, Anthony said.
Guyana has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines but has also found itself fighting vaccine hesitancy as many persons have opted not to take the vaccine. It was discovered that many of them have instead decided to purchase fake vaccine cards.