The World Health Organization (WHO) said making it mandatory to get immunised against the coronavirus disease would be the wrong road to take, adding there were examples in the past of mandating vaccines use only to see it backfire with greater opposition to them.
Instead persuading people on the merits of a Covid-19 vaccine would be far more effective than trying to make the jabs mandatory.
The UN health agency said it would be down to individual countries as to how they want to conduct their vaccination campaigns against the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s immunisation department, mandates are the not the direction to go in here, and it is a much better to actually encourage and facilitate the vaccination without those kinds of requirements.
There may be certain hospital professions in which being vaccinated might be required or highly recommended for staff and patient safety. But, WHO experts admitted there was a battle to be fought to convince the general public to take the vaccines as they become available.
The vaccine story is a good news story. It is the victory of human endeavour, potentially, over a microbial adversary, said Michael Ryan, the organisation’s emergencies director, in a statement.
According to Ryan, they need to convince people and they need to persuade. As for making vaccines mandatory, he said that they who work in public health would rather avoid that as a means for getting people vaccinated.
51 have entered human trials, 13 of which have reached final-stage mass testing, according to the WHO’s overview of different candidate vaccines. A further 163 candidate vaccines are being developed in laboratories with a view to eventual human testing.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries which are beginning deploying vaccines in the coming weeks and months to prioritise those most in need.
In a statement Tedros said health workers at high risk of infection were a top priority, plus people at the highest risk of serious disease or death due to their age – thereby easing the pressure on health systems and later be followed by people with a higher risk of severe disease due to underlying conditions, and marginalised groups at higher risk.
The WHO’s ACT-Accelerator mechanism, pooling risk and reward among countries rich and poor, is a global attempt to speed up the development of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, and purchase and distribute them evenly regardless of wealth.
However, the scheme needs USD4.3 billion urgently, with a further USD23.9 billion required in 2021.
Also according to Ryan, what is needed now globally is not to enter the land of empty promises in terms of supporting the ACT-Accelerator. He is urging wealthy donors to stump up, what’s not in place is the financing to make that happen in 2021.
“There’s too much of a gap between the rhetoric and the reality.”