Claim 1: News reports claim Ghana is the only country championing mandatory vaccination.
Ghana is not the only country making vaccination mandatory. Reports from Statista, a global sourcing hub, capture several countries including Germany and France to have made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory.
The headline of a news report by 3news.com, attributed to the National Communication Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi, claims Ghana is the only country championing mandatory vaccination.
“It’s only Ghana that is championing mandatory vaccination – Sammy Gyamfi,” the headline reads.
The report was crafted from an interview Sammy Gyamfi granted to Alfred Ocansey on the Sunrise Show on 3FM, on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
The show which was streamed on Facebook has garnered over a thousand views. However, the 3news.com report also published on January 12, 2022, has since been re-published by several websites including, modernghana.com,ghanafeed.com and myinfogh.com.
According to Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Ministry is doing all it can to ensure that at least 20 million people get vaccinated to reach herd immunity. One of such measures, the Ministry says, is the introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy for travellers, including Ghanaian nationals, entering the country through the Kotoka International Airport. The government also indicated plans to prevent unvaccinated persons from gaining access to public places like stadiums. However, the decision by the ministry has received a lot of backlash from various groups such as the Concerned Ghanaian Doctors and Advocate for Christ Ghana.
With the overwhelming interest the story has generated on these platforms, Dubawa found it necessary to verify the facts as claimed in the news report and subject the source of the report to scrutiny as well.
As a result, we assessed the video streamed on the Facebook page of 3fm to ascertain whether Sammy Gyamfi made the claim.
At 30minutes:30 seconds – 33minutes:31 seconds of the Facebook video, part of which we have quoted, we found that 3news.com partially misrepresented the views of the NDC National Communications Officer.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is what he said: “There is no country in the whole world that has mandated COVID-19 vaccination for its citizens, and it is required that they take it before they allow their citizens to enter their own country. COVID-19 vaccination mandate has been done in Australia, the U.S, and all across the world, it’s been done. But in all those countries, including the U.S, it is not used as the right of entry of citizens into their country. It is only in Ghana we are saying that a country that has less than one percent fatality rate of COVID-19 should be mandated to take the vaccines.”
Dubawa spoke to Sammy Gyamfi to seek further clarifications on the claim; he said he has been misrepresented by 3news.
“What I said was Ghana is the only country in the world that has announced the kind of compulsory vaccination restrictions that we are currently implementing. What do I mean by that? There are so many countries that have mandated COVID-19 vaccines but none of these countries require their citizens to take a COVID vaccine before entering their own country. So 3news got it wrong when they said I said no country has mandated COVID vaccines. No, that can not be true. Countries have mandated, but it is the type and form of the mandate I am talking about,” he said.
How are other countries handling mandatory vaccination?
In the United States, citizens do not need proof of vaccines to enter the United States. This is captured by the national public health agency of the United States, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Statista is a global sourcing hub, and it has listed the number of countries making vaccination mandatory. Italy, Vatican, Greece, and Russia are among such countries.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 announced at a press briefing that it has revised its international guidelines for Ghanaians entering the country through the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). According to the Director-General of GHS, Dr. Patrick Kumah-Aboagye, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Ghanaians and resident foreigners have been exempted from the requirement of full vaccination before traveling to Ghana.” This announcement was captured at (0:00 to 0:47) of a video published by MyJoyonline TV.
Claim 2: World Health Organization (WHO) does not support compulsory vaccination.
A policy brief by the World Health Organization indicates that it does not support mandatory vaccination.
The National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) further claimed on the same show that the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not support compulsory vaccination. This was made on the (29 minutes 50 secs – 30minutes 19seconds) of the Facebook video posted by 3FM
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has come out to say that they don’t support compulsory vaccination. And they are saying that even if the government wants to adopt compulsory vaccination there should be some extra caveats that must be respected,” Sammy Gyamfi said.
First, we need to understand what mandatory vaccination is. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mandatory vaccination compels vaccination by direct or indirect threats of imposing restrictions in cases of non-compliance.
It explains further that mandatory vaccination policies limit individual choice in non-trivial ways by making vaccination a condition of, for example, attending school or working in particular industries or settings, like health care.
We researched documents of the WHO and found a policy brief dated 14th April 2021 titled Covid-19 and mandatory vaccination: Ethical considerations and caveat. It is stipulated on the first page that WHO does not support mandatory vaccination but rather various countries should focus on raising awareness and making the vaccines accessible.
“Although it should be noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not presently support the direction of mandates for COVID-19 vaccination, it is better to work on information campaigns and make vaccines accessible,” the statement said.
Also, Dubawa found a post published on the Facebook page of the World Health Organization on November 16, 2021, explaining the stand of WHO on mandatory vaccination.
Dr. Michael Ryan is the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme and in the post, he said WHO’s stand is to continue with engagements with people to drive the idea of an informed choice.
“Our position at the WHO is that mandatory vaccination should be considered when the health gain that you are going to get from imposing that is very clear, and you’ve tried all other measures to get people vaccinated. I still believe that the best way is to continue engaging with the people and to continue to drive the idea of an informed choice. But there are circumstances in which the threat to society, the threat to the health system, the threat to the economy is such that governments, having tried all other measures, can make such decisions”.
“This raises issues about human rights, and it is something that the government should consider extremely carefully. And they need to be sure that the benefits of doing this outweighs the risks and that they have everything possible, to address vaccine hesitancy and other issues they feel that they have no other alternative, and it has to have an objective of protecting the individual or protecting the society or the health system. There must be very clear reasons why that action is being taken. And there needs to be a dialogue within government, agencies, and communities around these issues.” Dr. Ryan said.
The claim that Ghana is the only country championing mandatory vaccination is false. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that it does not approve of making vaccination mandatory.