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"Bribes, abuse and arguments" facing Covid call handlers

Thursday 20 May 2021

"Bribes, abuse and arguments" facing Covid call handlers

Thursday 20 May 2021

People are verbally abusing Covid call handlers and even offering bribes for a choice of vaccine, according to Public Health, which is contributing to lengthy queues for others trying to book a jab.

“Today, and every day, call handlers are dealing with verbal abuse from islanders not happy that they cannot, for example, request a specific vaccine,” said the Lead Officer at the Vaccination Contact Centre, Alex Hawkins-Drew.

“Arguing with call handlers for 15 minutes will not change the situation."

Other callers have, in some instances, been experiencing waiting times of around an hour when trying to book their vaccine.

Pictured: The States of Guernsey said “high numbers of callers” were leading to long waiting times on the phone.

Not only have call handlers experienced verbal abuse on the phone lines, it has also been suggested that some members of the public have been trying to ‘buy’ the vaccine they want.

“You cannot offer to pay money (no matter how large a sum you offer) to get a vaccine of choice,” said a Public Health spokesperson.

“The Covid-19 vaccine programme follows the ethical principles of a community vaccination programme."

Beau Sejour Vaccine Centre Inside Booth

Pictured: Since the end of January, 58,000 doses have been given to the community.

Public Health has repeated several principles guiding its vaccination programme, in the hopes that fewer people will abuse their staff and try to side-step the rules.

We’re being reminded that the decision of which vaccine we receive is determined by Public Health. If you choose to have a vaccination it should be prioritised above anything else, they say, and you should avoid trying to re-book it.

“[They cannot] ask us to change appointments as they have now booked a holiday which now clashes with their second dose appointment and they want it sooner," said Ms Hawkins-Drew. "That is not easily accommodated and at times is clinically contraindicated."


Pictured: Invites for vaccines are now being sent out to people aged between 25 and 29.

Any form of harassment is being treated as unacceptable and we’re being asked to always treat the call handlers with fairness, dignity, and respect.

“Please be kind to the call handlers at the VCC – they are doing a great job and working extremely hard,” concluded Public Health.

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