18 Things you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination in Ghana

BY: Judith Lamiokor Lamptey & Elvis Dompreh
President Akufo-Addo took his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the 37 Military Hospital
President Akufo-Addo took his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the 37 Military Hospital

Ghana will from Tuesday, March 2, 2021 begin the deployment of the 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, together with his wife, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, together with his wife, Mrs Samira Bawumia, on Monday, March 1, 2021 took their first shots of the vaccine at the 37 Military Hospital and Police Hospital respectively.

The vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India (Covishield), arrived in Ghana on February 24, 2021 under the UN-COVAX facility. 

Here are 18 questions and answers on the COVID-19 vaccines and rollout in Ghana

Q: When will the COVID-19 vaccination exercise begin in Ghana?
A: March 2, 2021.

Q: What is the COVID-19 Vaccine, Global Access (COVAX) initiative about?
A: COVAX is a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines to all countries regardless of their wealth.

Q: What is the essence of the COVAX initiative?
A: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVAX was created to maximize the world’s chances of successfully developing COVID-19 vaccines and manufacture them in quantities needed to end the pandemic.

Q: How are COVID-19 vaccines authorized worldwide?
A: COVID-19 vaccines are approved under Emergency Use Authorization by different National Regulatory Authorities (NRA) worldwide

Q: Why are vaccines important in Ghana?
A: The vaccines will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ghana. It provides protection and reduces the risk of infection and severity of symptoms.

Q: What are the approved COVID-19 vaccines to be administered in Ghana?
AstraZeneca (Covishield) from the Serum Institute of India and Russia’s Sputnik-V

Q: How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?
A: According to the FDA the vaccines available for COVID-19 have efficacy of between 60-94 per cent and are effective in preventing symptomatic disease. In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said COVID-19 vaccines should at least demonstrate 50 per cent efficacy against severe disease.

Q: How long will the vaccine be effective?
A: According to the FDA, the vaccines are expected to work for at least one year if not longer

Q: Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
A: The FDA says it has employed adequate safety and quality measures in authorizing the two COVID-19 vaccines and that no safety and efficacy standards were bypassed or compromised.

Q: Will vaccines authorized in Ghana be as effective as the ones in other countries?
A: Yes. The FDA says clinical trials data reviewed by its outfit showed that the vaccines are safe and efficacious. It said COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Ghana will be as effective as any vaccine authorized by other countries.

Q: What is the Ghana Health Service’s take on COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The Ghana Health Service says the COVID-19 vaccines will play a major complementary role   for breaking the Coronavirus disease in the country due to lack of optimum adherence to the preventive measures.

Q: What is government’s vaccination rollout plan?
A: According to the Ministry of Information, the COVID-19 vaccination will be conducted in phases among segmented population. The first segment of the population that will receive the doses will be health workers, adults 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary and their related staff, frontline security personnel, some religious leaders, essential workers, teachers and other personalities in Greater Accra and Kumasi.

Q: What is government’s response to conspiracy theories against the vaccine?
A: The government has urged the public to disregard all myths and conspiracy concerning the COVID-19 vaccines and avail themselves for the vaccination when it starts.

Q: Is Ghana due for any compensation should there be harmful side effects from the vaccines?
A: An agreement signed between WHO and COVAX facility indicates that Ghana will receive a no-fault compensation of serious side –effect for people who were vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccines.

Q: How many dose is one expected to take?
A: One is expected to take two doses of the vaccine.

Q: What is the day interval between the first dose and the second?
A: A minimum of 14-28 days interval after administration of first shot.

Q: Are children and pregnant women safe to take the vaccine?
A: According to the vaccination plan, children under 16 and pregnant women will be vaccinated over time.

Q: Does Ghana intend to produce its own vaccine?
A: Yes. President Akufo-Addo has appointed Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng to lead a vaccine development and manufacturing committee in Ghana.