Compulsory vaccination needs support of all

BY: Daily Graphic

The government is rolling out a COVID-19 compulsory vaccination programme to ensure that the country is safe from the scary COVID-19 virus.

The programme covers all Ghanaians, including students 15 years and above.

It comes at a time when the global community is grappling with the fourth wave of the pandemic, during which European and Western countries are coming under pressure from rising infections, deaths and pandemic-inspired restrictions on life.

As of December 10, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had reported that about 267.8 million people were infected by the virus, and that 5.3 million had succumbed to it worldwide.

It also comes at a time when the Omicron variant of the virus has emerged from Africa, raising anxiety over a renewed round of restrictions on movement to help contain the spread and mitigate the impact on economies.

While anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic among Ghanaians has reduced significantly, the rate of spread and the impact on lives and livelihoods still remain a major concern.

Data from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) show that as of December 8, the virus had infected more than 13,500 people, killing more than 1,200. Of grave concern is the fact that the Omicron variant had infected 41 people as of that date.

As a result of this situation, various countries across the globe are taking stringent measures to ward off the virus and protect their economies and citizens, bringing in its wake swift and panic reactions. Indeed, everybody is concerned about the impact.

We at the Daily Graphic think that as much as it is a global emergency, there is the need to remain calm and avoid panic reactions.

We are delighted that the government has taken the proactive step of ensuring mandatory vaccination for its citizens.

We also note with appreciation the fact that the biggest labour body, the Trades Union Congress, (TUC) has thrown its support behind the government’s positive move.

Its Secretary General, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, however, expressed concern over the lack of deeper engagement between the government and key stakeholders in the implementation of the programme.

It is in this connection that we encourage enhanced mass public sensitisation to the rationale for the mandatory vaccination for all the covered population.

We think that such enhanced public education will bring all of us on the same page and ultimately our society will be better for it.

After all, if we are able to get our citizenry vaccinated, it will go a long way not only to make the country safe but also boost business confidence, leading to increased productivity.

All over the world, productivity hinges on a healthy population, hence the need for all to embrace this. Consequently, we call on all Ghanaians to accept the policy, just as the TUC has done.

We also urge the GHS to partner the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to defuse the various myths surrounding the vaccination process.

We are well aware of various positions that certain groups and individuals have taken on the vaccines, mainly as a result of lack of proper information. Mention can be made of the various views sampled from the Upper Manya Krobo District and parts of the Volta Region, in which the people relied on various myths to register their resistance to the vaccination.

Through enhanced sensitisation, publication and peer education, these myths can be refuted to pave the way for the full embracement of the vaccination process.

This way, the vaccination exercise will gain public acceptance for the positive effort meant to protect everybody and keep the economy safe.

The paper is of the belief that it will also avoid a stampede from January onwards when the ‘no vaccination, no access to critical places’ policy kicks in, forcing everybody to then rush to be vaccinated.