The World Health Organisation (WHO) has allowed governments to impose mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as the world faces the threat of a new variant, Omicron.
WHO, however, warned that governments must exhaust all measures to encourage voluntary inoculation.
The Omicron variant was recently detected in South Africa and has since been detected in other countries including Botswana, the UK, and Israel.
In a recent audio clip, WHO head of health emergencies programme Mike Ryan said governments that wished to impose mandatory vaccination should avail the relevant information on the pandemic to enable informed choices. Ryan said:
Our position in WHO is that mandatory vaccination should be only considered when the health gain that you are going to get from that is very clear and you have tried all other measures to get people vaccinated.
I still personally believe that the best way is to continue engaging with 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, and the threat to the economy is such that governments, having tried all other measures are able to make that decision.
This raises real issues around human rights and it’s something that governments should consider carefully, and they need to be sure that the benefits of doing this outweighs the risks and that they have done everything possible to address vaccine hesitancy and other issues, and they feel that they have no other alternative.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara said the government can utilise community health promoters to enhance awareness on vaccines.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike echoed Matara’s remarks saying Zimbabwe needs to identify community vaccine champions and ambassadors.
WHO’s stance comes as a huge fraction of the world population is resisting the vaccine citing various reasons.