CLAIM: Ghanaian Information Minister Says Government May Sanction Citizens That Refuse To Take COVID-19 Vaccine

Adeyemi Okediran

On March 10, 2021, a news story was published on YEN, with the headline “Government may sanction those refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine – Oppong Nkrumah”

The statement reads; “Government is considering imposing sanctions on Ghanaians who will refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, disclosed. Ghana on February 22, 2021, took delivery of 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine under the United Nation-led COVAX facility.”

 

POTENTIAL IMPACT OF THE CLAIM

The claim came up at a time when the whole world is looking for a cure to the virus that has killed millions of people since it was discovered.

The potential impact of this claim muddles with the recent publication of some country imposing fine on the citizen who has refused to take their jab of the vaccine, just as the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta has threatened fines of up to $356—or more than a month’s salary on average, according to the country’s per capita gross domestic product.

 

CLAIM

N-VA extracted the claim, “Ghanaian Information Minister Says Government May Sanction Citizens That Refuse To Take COVID-19 Vaccine” and went on to fact-check and verify its authenticity.

 

VERIFICATION

YEN News published the article on its website on March 10, 2021, with the headline, “Government may sanction those refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine – Oppong Nkrumah.”

It claimed that the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated that the government may sanction those refusing to take the vaccine and that over 300,000 people have already taken the vaccine while the government hopes to vaccinate 20millon Ghanaians.

“Government is considering imposing sanctions on Ghanaians who will refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” Nkrumah was quoted in the article.

It would be recalled that on February 22, 2021, Ghana took delivery of 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca under the United Nation-led COVAX facility. The AstraZeneca vaccine is licensed to the Serum Institute of India (AZ/SII).

“A lot of people are volunteering or stepping up to it. So we have not had a need as of now to introduce sanctions,” the Information Minister was quoted to have stated this during a news conference on Monday, March 8.

Nkrumah concluded that “But, should it become necessary that sanctions are introduced to compel people to take the COVID-19 vaccine, we will advise accordingly.”

It was also discovered that Modern Ghana, one of the online newspapers in Ghana has also made the same publication on March 9, 2021, with the same headline.

The statement read in part, “Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said the government may be compelled to impose sanctions on persons who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Modern Ghana said that while the minister was speaking at a press conference on Monday, March 8, at the Peduase Lodge, he stated that the government believes it will have to force those unwilling to take a jab to do so when the need arises.

“We are pleased that we are observing that the initial vaccine hesitancy appears to be toning down a bit and a lot of people are volunteering or stepping up to it. So we have not had a need as of now to introduce sanctions. Should it become necessary at some point that we consider what has been done in places like I think Israel or other places where they will say if you haven’t taken the vaccine you can’t attend a public programme. Should it become necessary that we get there, we’ll advise accordingly. But for now, we are happy at the level of encouragement and volunteering with which people are stepping out and taking it.” the minister was quoted in the article.

CLARIFICATION

The Ministry of Information, Republic of Ghana, has debunked the publication made by a number of reputable online portals and newspapers that claim the Government will sanction persons who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ministry declared this as false in a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Munira Karim on March 10, 2021.

The statement read in part, “RE: GOVERNMENT TO SANCTION PERSONS WHO REFUSE COVID-19 VACCINE.”

“The attention of the Ministry of Information has been drawn to a false publication by a number of reputable online portals and newspapers to the effect that Government will sanction persons who refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The said reportage is false. The government has neither taken nor announced any such decision. For the avoidance of doubt, below is the quotation of the remarks by the minister tor Information at a press briefing in Peduase on Monday, March 8, 2021, when asked about whether or not sanctions will be imposed on persons who refused the COVID-19 vaccines.

“As at now, there are no sanctions that I have been rolled out. We are encouraging strongly that people should take the vaccine and we are pleased that we are observing that the initial vaccine hesitancy appears to be toning down a bit and we congratulate you our colleagues in the media as you are helping us. We congratulate our colleagues in NCCE, ISD.

“As we are getting the message out, we are noticing that hesitancy is gradually coming down and a lot more people are volunteering to take the vaccine. So we have not had a need as of now to introduce any sanctions. Should it become necessary at some point, that we consider either what has been done I think in places like Israel or other places, where they will say if you haven’t taken the vaccine you can’t attend a public programme; if you haven’t taken the vaccine I think in Dubai, you have to do a PCR test at your own cost every week or something; Should it become necessary that we get there, we would advise accordingly but for now, we are happy at the level of encouragement and volunteering with which people are stepping up and taking it”.

“The general public is advised to ignore such false publications. Ghanaians are, however, encouraged to take the vaccine to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 illness,” the statement concluded.

The COVID-19 vaccination exercise started in Ghana on March 2, 2021, using the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.

As of the close of day March 7, a total of 202, 252 persons had been vaccinated with the Greater Accra Region having the highest number of persons – 128,088 vaccinated and on Friday, March 5th, the highest number of persons vaccinated was 46,780.

Ghana is expected to receive an additional two million of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility by the end of May this year, boasting the government’s quest to vaccinate about 20 million Ghanaians.

 

CONCLUSION

According to the claim made by Oppong Nkrumah that Government may sanction those refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, is FALSE, as the minister did not make remarks relating to the claim at the press briefing when asked whether sanctions will be imposed on persons who refused the COVD-19 vaccines

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