Dr. Hoa Nguyen has stepped down as chairman of the Physicians Advisory Group in protest of the Guam governor’s latest directive that pits the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.
Nguyen said he did not want to be associated with any policy that segregates different groups of people.
“I do not want to get caught in this political issue of vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” Nguyen said. “It’s not in line with my belief. You cannot treat the vaccinated and unvaccinated differently. It’s not a good environment.”
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Friday issued an executive order requiring residents to show proof of vaccination to dine in at restaurants or use public facilities, leaving the unvaccinated out.
“In order to fully participate in society, you must do your part and get vaccinated,” the governor said last week announcing the new policy.
The mounting protests against the new vaccine rule prompted the governor to amend her executive order to provide some leeway to those who have had their first shot.
Nguyen said he turned in his resignation the day after he went public with his opposition to the new directive.
“I think that EO is not well thought out before it came out, that’s why there’s so much resistance,” he said.
Segregating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was not a science-based policy, Nguyen said.
“When you ask the unvaccinated to stay home or not gather with your family, that is not really based on scientific data,” Nguyen said. “You cannot treat the vaccinated and unvaccinated separately.”
Both groups are susceptible to catching the coronavirus, he said.
“The only difference is that unvaccinated is likely to get more sick than the vaccinated. The purpose of the vaccine is to decrease the severity of the illness— it doesn’t mean that you cannot catch the virus,” Nguyen said.
In the end, he said, people should make personal medical decisions for themselves without being held in duress.
“I would like to make sure that the freedom of choice remains intact for everybody,” he said.
Instead of implementing a discriminatory policy, Nguyen said the government should take a more proactive approach such as reinstating the restrictions on social gatherings.
Nguyen said the board advised the governor to reconsider the lifting of caps on social gathering and occupancy three to four weeks ago when Guam started seeing a new surge in Covid-19 cases.
"We are in the third wave. It will get worse before it gets better," he said.
The government lifted the restrictions on social gathering after reaching the target to inoculate 80 percent of the island’s eligible population.
In a statement earlier, Communications Director Krystal Paco San Agustin said:
"Dr. Nguyen has stepped aside to pay full attention to his practice and will serve Governor Leon Guerrero and the people of Guam in a different capacity."
Nguyen said he will continue working with the advisory group in a private capacity.
“That way, if I see anything that can help Guam to move forward, then I can say it freely,” he said. “I will try to work with private sectors in immunization and testing, including reaching out to GDOE if I can be of any assistance to them.”
Nguyen advised residents not to abandon the basic safety measures. such as the wearing of masks, washing of hands and keeping distance.