The Rastafarian community in Ghana says it is against any plan to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory in the country.
According to the community, such a move would be a breach of the religious and indigenous rights of its members.
Some members of the Rastafarian community are thus calling on the president, Nana Akufo-Addo, and health authorities to stop campaigning for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Speaking to Citi News, the Rastafarians say the health implications on their members are some of the reasons for their stance.
“There is enough scientific evidence out there. There are warnings saying there is no due diligence on this issue, so we are not supposed to take it until that is done,” one of them said.
Another said, “it is wrong that the president demands that people take this vaccine. What if what is contained in the vaccine has consequences on the health of a person? He should never uphold this thing. I will not take it. There are other ways we can come into the country without having vaccines.”
Another Rastafarian also urged the president to “reconsider the actions and withdraw or find another means to consult broadly and create more awareness” on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman Manu, has debunked claims that Ghana’s vaccination drive is mandatory.
He indicated that the government only encouraged Ghanaians to vaccinate to avert a possible escalation of a new wave of the disease.
“We are not forcing people to take vaccines. We are encouraging them by introducing mandatory protocols so if you are not going to watch football or going to the Ministry of Health and you don’t want to take it, you won’t take it,” he said.
Although vaccination is currently not mandatory, the Ministry of Health has indicated that it may be forced to trigger a mandatory vaccination in Ghana if the rate of vaccination does not improve.
Some Ghanaians, including the Communications Officer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have filed applications in court to challenge what they say is a mandatory vaccination campaign by the government.