BIOMEDICAL Union of Zambia president Daniel Mwimbe says there is no need for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, arguing that people just need to be encouraged rather than forced.

Pharmaceutical expert Jerome Kanyika recently called on government to put in place policies which will ensure mandatory vaccination for all front line workers if the country was to meet the set targets.

But in an interview, Mwimbe said people should not be forced to get vaccinated.

He said government should instead sensitise citizens on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines.

“For us we do not see any need why there should be mandatory vaccination as being propagated by a section of our colleagues. We cannot count on mandatory vaccination, that is why people have the freedom of choice, you are basically talking about the human rights themselves. You cannot force somebody to get vaccinated. What we need is to encourage our brothers and sisters to join the President, he has taken the front row,” Mwimbe said.

“One thing that killed the vaccination in the previous government was politics. People politicized COVID so much. Even the current government have attested that they didn’t get vaccinated because they still believed that COVID was just a fluke. We should not play politics; it is not time for politics. It is time to find means and ways of how best we can have the majority of the people vaccinated. Let us support the government of the day and let us move together, that is the only way we can win.”

Mwimbe said the 70 percent vaccination target that was suggested by President Hakainde Hichilema was not feasible in a short term.

“Looking at the target of 70 percent, it is still very high for us to meet. One thing that we have seen is that the President himself has taken the front seat in terms of driving the programme like we saw on the relaunch. I think that was a cry from almost every Zambian that the former president was too far from the programmes that were happening especially in the fight against COVID. That is why we kept crying that the President himself needed to be a champion and invite a lot of people to come forward. So that is one key thing, that he is going to take the front row and invite a lot of people to join him,” said Mwimbe.

“70 percent is feasible but not in a short term, it is something that will take time for us to get the 70 percent. We know that our target right now is to compete with countries that have reached at least 10 percent. If I remember very well, the COVID advisor to the President said by December, we are targeting to meet the 10 percent. Even that 10 percent it will not be that easy knowing that we have all these persuasions that people have. The 70 percent target is very high but that is the only option that we have, it may not be now maybe a year onwards. If we get 70 percent then we know that we have defeated this pandemic.