International outsourcing firm Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) has been jolted into cranking up its campaign to vaccinate reluctant staffers following an outbreak of more than 100 coronavirus infections at its facility which resulted in the passing of the firm's communications manager, Marvel Gordon, on Friday.
The inoculation drive, which gets underway on Thursday, is part of a wider thrust under the Private Sector Vaccine Initiative to speed up Jamaica's lagging campaign to achieve 65 per cent herd immunity against a virus that has infected 59,088 people here and killed 1,320.
The HGS COVID-19 cluster is bound to raise concerns as the island endures a third wave of the virus because it was the Alorica call centre that was the epicentre of the first explosion of cases in April 2020, triggering a clampdown on business process outsourcing (BPO) companies because of their reputation for densely populated worksites.
An incentive of US$20 is also being offered for HGS staffers to take the jab. The vaccination drive will also be open to members of the public.
“Marvel's death has been very upsetting for me and the entire team,” Anand Biradsor, HGS senior vice president and country head, said in an interview with The Gleaner Tuesday night.
“She was a phenomenal manager and one of the best I have worked with.”
Gordon and her team was the driving force behind the Indian-owned company's effort to vaccinate its 4,200-strong workforce, but was reportedly the only member of the management team not to take the jab.
Approximately 2,900 HGS employees work from home, while the remainder operates from the office.
“I wish she had taken the vaccine, and that is why it is so deeply upsetting because she was driving the vaccination programme,” Biradsor lamented. “Now I am hoping that Marvel will become an inspiration for anyone out there that doubts vaccination. It is something one has to take to be safe.”
“People will always think nothing will happen to them, and when it happens, it is the family that suffers,” Biradsor added.
According to the country head, concerns were raised after 10 workers from one programme tested positive.
“Of the 1,300 office staff-tested, just over 100 were returned positive and were sent home to rest, and they will not return unless they are COVID-negative, but they will still be getting their wages,” he said.
Following the office outbreak, Gordon, along with six co-workers and two children, spent the weekend at a villa in St Ann where they visited several attractions.