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Leading members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) appear to be divided on a recent vaccine mandate by the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The mandate directs that all unvaccinated Ghanaians and people with residential status who will be returning to the country after 14 days from midnight yesterday will be vaccinated on arrival. Additionally, all persons who are 18 years or above arriving in the country are required to provide evidence of full vaccination for COVID-19.
The directive forms part of a review of the national COVID-19 preventive protocol instituted at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to limit the importation of COVID-19 in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
These directives have been met with differing views on the infringement of human rights and public health policy by the Communications Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi; the Member of Parliament for the Ningo Prampram constituency, Sam Nartey George and a former Minister of Communication, Dr Edward Omane Boamah.
Mr Gyamfi, speaking in his private capacity said he found the mandate reprehensible and an affront to the 1992 Constitution.
He added that he was determined to use every legal means “to fight this madness”, “no matter the cost or stigma”.
“Vaccination must be by choice and not by force. The imposition of compulsory COVID vaccination requirement on all Ghanaians traveling into and out of Ghana by the Ghana Health Service is reprehensible and an affront to the 1992 Constitution. And some of us are determined to fight this madness through every available legal means no matter the cost or stigma,” Mr Gyamfi wrote in a Facebook post.
For Mr Nartey George, the mandate which he supports was sound public health policy and a very good step by the government.
In a post on Twitter, the Ningo Prampram MP argued that the “Public health considerations supersede personal liberties”.
“Compulsory vaccination upon entry to the Republic? Infringement of rights or public health policy? This is sound public health policy and a very good step by govt. I support it and hope it is implemented vigorously. Public health considerations supersede personal liberties,” he tweeted.
Weighing in on the legality of the mandate in a Facebook post, Dr Omane Boamah said not only was it legal, but it was meant to protect everyone.
“Over the weekend, friends have asked me if it is right (legal/ethical) for government to vaccinate Ghanaians ‘by force’ (compulsory vaccination)?” he posted.
“Me: Yes, the Public Health Act states so. It is not only legal but also an act to protect you, your family,.friends and everyone.
“Therefore, please avail yourself to be vaccinated so long as you don’t have a condition which makes it impossible for you to receive the covid-19 vaccine”.
Only 5,724,634 people in the country had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of December 3, 2021, while 1,243 persons had died from the illness as of December 8, 2021.