Despite government’s effort to procure vaccines to jab over 20 million of the country’s population, there is still resistance from some citizens who have raised concerns over the efficacy of the vaccines, probably due to inadequate education on it – a situation the World Bank says could slow recovery progress.
Anecdotal evidence gathered by the B&FT through interviews has revealed that though people are informed of the availability of vaccines, they are reluctant to take them because they believe it will not serve as a full proof measure against the virus, indicating education and sensitisation about the vaccines have not sunk deep.
For example, a human resources practitioner, who wants to be known as Efua Johnson, shared her experience with the B&FT saying: “I do not see why I should take the vaccine because what I do know of vaccines is that, they take years to formulate, test, try and are 100 percent full proof before they are made available on the market. Take the polio vaccines and the yellow fever vaccines, were they not tested for several years before they mass-produced them?
These COVID-19 vaccines are churned out based on the next to expire basis and I do not know which of the strands I am being vaccinated against. There are people who are fully vaccinated and yet they still contract the virus so how does taking this vaccine help me? If the government insists on making this vaccination mandatory, I will opt not to take it and if it means losing my job, I will stay home.
The virus keeps mutating and now, there are talks of boosters, are we going to continually take boosters? What are we taking the boosters against? I will not take the shots, it is of no benefit to me,” she said.
Another human resources practitioner, Akua Ansah, says her reluctance not to take the vaccine is because of its inability to offer permanent protection against the virus.
“Permanent protection is what I want and not some rushed vaccine that does not offer full protection against something as deadly as COVID-19. Polio vaccines are permanent solutions, and it took years to perfect,” she said.
A civil servant with one of the ministries, Joseph Addy, though has taken the jab, said he did it because it is mandatory for him; and he is not allowing his family members to take it, as he is not convinced about how it can keep them safe from the virus.
“At our workplace, the COVID-19 jab was made mandatory for all who wanted to keep their jobs. I am the breadwinner of my family and because I need to provide for my family, I took the jab. But I am personally against taking the jab because I am not fully aware of how it is supposed to keep me and my family safe. I have advised members of my family not to take the shot because there’s no guarantee that if they take the shot, they will not contract the disease,” he said.
For businessman, Mohammed Ali, he thinks there should be more education on the vaccines that takes a holistic approach which will include medical screening so that people who are not supposed to take it will not go for the jab and suffer side effects which will deter others from taking.
“It is not enough for someone to go for the jab and be asked if she or he is allergic to any of the components making up the vaccines. Because some people do not know what it is they are allergic to, but they are taking these shots based on what the government tells us. And in order not for them to lose their jobs, many will take the jab and conceal the fact that they are allergic to some of the components which make up the vaccine and suffer other health complications or even die.
I believe we need to go beyond asking people whether they have underlying conditions before they take the jab. There should be a holistic approach to screening people prior to taking the jab and making sure there is adequate information about the make-up of the vaccine,” he said.
These views suggest there is the urgent need for government to intensify its education and sensitisation efforts for citizens to better understand what it means to get vaccinated, else, as the World Bank has already warned, “very low COVID-19 vaccination rates in the region pose a threat of renewed and more severe outbreaks, which could trigger recurrent disruption to activity. A prolonged pandemic could amplify past development and health challenges, derail structural and fiscal reforms, and result in lasting human capital losses.”