The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has urged the Ministry of Health to withdraw its compulsory vaccine mandate and subsequent job losses to health workers who have not been vaccinated.
The Association believes that the vaccine mandate decision by the government will stress and deplete the health workforce.
It has therefore recommended that the Health Ministry should rather demand evidence of a negative Covid-19 test from health workers who are unvaccinated.
“The Ministry of Health and its agencies should as a matter of urgency seek out health workers who have some concerns about the vaccines and address them directly to encourage those who are yet to vaccinate to do so,” a statement from the Association stated.
In response to vaccine hesitancy by Ghanaians, the GMA proposed some measures that can be adopted to encourage vaccination in the country.
“The Ghana Health Service should partner with Media Houses, National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Religious Bodies, Traditional Authorities, etc to ramp up public education on the need for COVID-19 vaccinations especially in local languages.
“The Government, Food and Drugs Authority and Ghana Health Service should note the concerns of vaccine hesitant individuals and groups and fashion out messages that directly addresses these concerns with local data and relevant information,” the statement added.
The Associated noted that while it fully supports the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the vaccine mandate should be the last option for the country.
“While the government has the power to institute a vaccine mandate (as enshrined in the Public Health Act), the GMA is however of the considered opinion that vaccine mandates should only be issued as a last resort owing to the ethical, legal and practical challenges it may pose,” the Association said.
According to the GMA, if the vaccine mandate is hastily implemented, it may actually worsen antivaccine sentiments and vaccine hesitancy among Ghanaians.
Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye in December last year disclosed some categories of persons to be affected by the government’s mandatory vaccination.
“…Persons who are likely to be affected are all health workers who should be vaccinated. All security personnel should be vaccinated, all staff and students from tertiary and secondary schools should be vaccinated, all government workers are affected and all commercial drivers are affected and to encourage them that’s why we are providing vaccines,” he announced.