Experts differ on compulsory COVID-19 vaccine for health workers

 

Yusuff Moshood

Health experts have expressed mixed reactions to the debate over making COVID-19 compulsory for health workers.

A growing number of countries are already making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for health workers.

France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America are among countries that have set compulsory deadlines for health workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recall that the Federal Government recently announced that it would make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for civil servants from 1st December 2021.

The government has, however, not made the vaccination compulsory for health workers in Nigeria.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise on the contentious issue, a lecturer and healthcare research scientist in the Department of Microbiology, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun StateDr. Elijah Kolawole, said the decision of some countries to make COVID-19 compulsory for health workers is a step in the right direction.

“Yes, it is a step in a good direction because health workers are at risk more than other members of society.

“They need to be protected in order to take care of any form of illness. We should not forget that it is not only COVID-19 that is being treated in the hospitals,” he said.

When asked if Nigeria should consider taking the same decision by compelling health workers to get vaccinated, Dr. Kolawole who is a medical virologist said the decision should be considered.

“I think we need to because it will help in combating the pandemic. It will reduce the rate of mutation of the virus too and prevent pressure on the health system of the country.

“The vaccine is safe and effective, once people get the complete dose. There is nothing to worry about.

“The little discomfort experienced after vaccination is normal. This shows that the vaccine is working and that the body is responding to it.

“Even little children when vaccinated do experience one or two of such discomforts, nothing to fear. The vaccines have gone through lots of processes before being approved for use; so we have nothing to worry about,” he said.

However, speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Dr. Doyin Odubanjo disagreed with making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for health workers.

Dr. Odubanjo who is a past chairman, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter noted that the health sector will lose a lot of experienced hands if such a decision is taken.

He stressed that some of the few nations that have taken the decision are already battling with the attendant consequences.

“I disagree with that decision and I must say that if you take that decision you will lose a lot of experienced hands.

“I don’t think compulsory COVID-19 vaccination is the way to go. Science does not also support it because if you say they can transmit the virus – because we have seen that – even the vaccinated people can transmit the virus.

“You can’t just decide to compel members of a community to do things. Rather, we should be engaging people in discussions. We should talk to people one on one to convince them to get vaccinated.

“What we need is to create avenues for people to express their views and we need to listen to them and not call them stupid.

“We can then start providing answers scientifically and logically to those questions. That is how we can convince them,” he said.

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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