Dr John Amuasi, Public health expert at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), has called for public engagement and discourse with persons who are against being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, insisting that it is well within their right to act in such a manner.
According to him, these are really “exciting times” for public health laws and legislation in general and the public is really learning. These activities, Mr Amuasi explained, especially with some Ghanaians pioneering their aversion to vaccination programs against the COVID-19 virus is actually going to go down in history. He revealed that such discourse will be used for a long time in teachings and examples of how “nuanced” these kinds of situations are, as there have been riots in Berlin, Rotterdam and other parts of Europe and even in the US against vaccines mandates.
“From a public health perspective if you ask me, I’m 101% in support of this decision. This is because there is freedom of movement. You can choose to come to Ghana or not choose to come to Ghana. But if you choose to come to Ghana, what you have to do is to be vaccinated… Under the circumstance, especially given unlimited vaccination rate, given the difficulty that is in enforcing the preventive measures like social distancing measures, handwashing, so on and so forth, it only makes common sense, let alone public health sense that we should take the kind of measure”.Dr John Amuasi
Public discourse on vaccination drive
The public health expert expressed that he is happy to “engage in any debate” on this subject, a phenomenon he considers important. He insisted that it’s also important that there is present some contrary argument to make this as intellectual as possible.
Ultimately, Mr Amuasi indicated that the contrary view on vaccination is a step in the right direction and as such, for those who would think that it’s “not fair and it’s an infringement” on their right, they have a right to express themselves and “we should engage with them” about it.
Nationwide, there have been pockets of opposition against government’s mandatory vaccination exercise for international travellers entering the country among others.
Commenting on this, Dr Amuasi noted that simply because Ghana has had relatively lower deaths does not mean the vaccination exercise should be halted. Contrarily, he explained that this is actually the time to double up efforts to vaccinate more people.
“I always say this that public health measures are always counterintuitive, which is that when you are successful with public health, you won’t see any troubles… and this is the paradox. When there is no trouble, it means public health is working well, when there is trouble it means public health is not working well. So, we are always trying to explain to people why we keep on doing what we have to do…”Dr John Amuasi
Among other things, government has indicated that it will fine airlines $3,500 for each passenger who arrives in the capital’s international airport without being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Under new measures, air carriers will also be penalised the same amount for travellers who did not fill out a health declaration form before boarding their flight to Kotoka International Airport.