The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has appealed to its members, particularly those in the informal sector, to ignore all the myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and get vaccinated.
It said in spite of the heightened public education on the individual and collective benefits of vaccination, people were still anxious and uncertain about the vaccines.
Speaking at a COVID-19 sensitisation forum organised for its union of Informal Workers Associations (UNIWA) in Accra yesterday, the Secretary General of the TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah, said the forum was to create a platform for members of UNIWA to engage medical doctors in the frontline of the COVID-19 response on a closer basis on the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Some of the myths are that the vaccine will give beneficiaries COVID-19, the vaccine will kill, make one infertile and force people to take the mark of the beast, 666, unknowingly.
Others include the fact that COVID-19 vaccines cannot be trusted because they were rushed.
The forum was sponsored by the Danish Trade Union Development Agency and is expected to benefit members nationwide on a rolling basis.
UNIWA is the first national trade union for workers in the informal economy established in 2013 under the name Council of Informal Workers Associations (CIWA), which was later changed to UNIWA, in recognition of its status as a trade union.
Dr. Baah said the TUC took the initiative of targeting between 500 and 1,000 of its members in the informal sector nationwide because it recognised the critical role of health on wealth creation, well-being and national development and the ramifications of COVID-19 on all sectors of the economy.
“One of the ways in which we thought we could do this is by ensuring that all our members understand why vaccination is critical to boosting immunity against the virus,” he said.
Dr. Baah said given the adage that no one was safe until everybody was safe, all stakeholders had to do their part to ensure that everybody qualified to be vaccinated was vaccinated.
He told the participants that once herd immunity was achieved or the entire population was vaccinated, life could return to normalcy to help improve on the impact of COVID-19 on all sectors, particularly the informal sector.
“Today, people are not going to the open markets in their numbers, fewer people are patronising salons and other services in the informal sector for fear of being infected with COVID-19, and this is affecting your livelihoods. But if it becomes public knowledge that we have all been vaccinated, people will not fear coming to you.
“I urge you all to avail yourselves for vaccination, following the understanding you will receive today, and pass on the information to your family and people around you,” he said.
A facilitator and medical doctor with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Dominic Nartey, said all the reasons people give for not taking COVID-19 vaccines were myths and hoaxes that had no basis in science and had to be ignored.
He said vaccines had, over the years, been scientifically proven to provide maximum protection against diseases and said vaccination was the reason most global childhood killer diseases, such as measles, polio and diphtheria, had been eradicated in the country.
He said COVID-19 vaccines were equally as helpful as the ones on the childcare list and so if parents had faith in vaccines their children took, then they should have same faith in COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Nartey said although the vaccines were done within shorter durations than usual, health experts, such as the World Health Organisation, ensured that all due diligence was done to make the vaccines safe and effective.
He described vaccines as the most effective immune booster that could keep the body’s immune system very active against the impact of the COVID-19.
He gave an analogy that the presence of soldiers in any country alone did not ward off attackers, but in the event of any attack, the soldiers fought to keep their country safe.
“However, how successful they will depends on their tenacity, strength, skill, among others. Soldiers do not wait for potential threat to remain active but they train consistently to remain active.
“This is exactly what the vaccines do to our immune system, which is often referred to as the soldiers in the body. COVID-19 vaccines boost the immune system by keeping it strong and on high alert to pick and fight the virus,” he said.
Dr. Nartey explained that a vaccinated person could, therefore, be infected, but would have a higher chance of survival and might not even fall sick from an infection.
He said when one was injected with the vaccine, it sent a message to the body with a blueprint that allowed it to produce a small, harmless fragment of the virus's distinctive "spike".