The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has asked the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to withdraw its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and job loss threat to health workers who have not been vaccinated.
It said the Service could demand that nurses who had not vaccinated produced negative test results but not threat of job loss.
The GMA said this in a press statement issued in Accra on Thursday and made available to the Ghana News Agency.
The statement, jointly signed by its President Dr. Frank Serebour, and General Secretary, Dr. Titus Beyuo, said while the mandate may be well-intended, it had the potential of reducing the already stressed and depleted health workforce.
It said the mandate if hastily implemented may worsen antivaccine sentiments and vaccine hesitancy, especially when COVID-19 case count continued to decline.
It said based on the current data on effectiveness and safety of the COVlD-19 vaccines approved for use in Ghana, the vaccines were safe and efficacious in helping combat the COVlD-19 pandemic.
“While vaccines are generally safe and effective, persons who take the vaccines may suffer some side effects as it may be the case with already existing vaccines that have been used for decades,” the statement said.
It said the GMA fully supported the COVlD-19 vaccination rollout and said aside people who were excluded for medical reasons, every person living in Ghana should be encouraged to get vaccinated.
“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. GMA is also unaware of any Executive Instrument that has been promulgated given legal backing for any such vaccine,” it said.
The statement, therefore, proposed that the GHS partnered with media houses, National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Civil Society Organizations, Religious bodies, traditional authorities, to ramp up public education on the need for COVlD-19 vaccinations, especially in local languages.
Also, Government, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and GHS should note the concerns of vaccine-hesitant individuals and groups and fashion out messages that directly addressed those concerns with local data and relevant information, adding that vaccines should be made accessible to all Ghanaians and as close as possible to their doorsteps.
The statement recommended that the strict enforcement of the COVID-19 preventive protocols should continue until the country achieved herd immunity through vaccination or a verifiable cure/treatment was found.
“We must all adhere to the preventive measures to ensure the safety of our families, friends and neighbours,” it added.