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COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: GHS seeks support of chiefs, religious leaders

BY: Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor
Charity Nikoi (2nd from right), Social and Behaviour Change Officer, UNICEF Ghana, and her team, addressing the programme.
Charity Nikoi (2nd from right), Social and Behaviour Change Officer, UNICEF Ghana, and her team, addressing the programme.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS), with the support of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), is seeking the support of traditional leaders and heads of religious bodies in the Ashanti Region to dispel the misconceptions and myths about the COVID-19 vaccines.

The move is intended to increase the number of people who have taken the vaccines and build herd immunity in the region.

Addressing stakeholders at separate meetings, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, said currently, 48 per cent of the residents were fully vaccinated, but the region needed 70 per cent for herd immunity.

He said 68 per cent of the residents had taken the first dose and expressed the belief that with the support of the major stakeholders such as traditional leaders and religious leaders, more people would get vaccinated to protect the entire region.

Dr Tenkorang said when the government relaxed the COVID-19 preventive measures, including the mandatory wearing of nose mask and social distancing, people no more took precautions and exposed themselves to infections.

He said studies had shown that there was a spike in infection every six months and that there was a possibility of it rising again this December.

COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Tenkorang said it was in this vein that the GHS and its partners were embarking on a fifth COVID-19 vaccination campaign to ensure that the region achieved its herd immunity.

The exercise is on the theme: “Protect yourself, Protect your family, Get vaccinated against COVID-19”, and would run up to tomorrow.

He said while the protocols would prevent one from getting infected, “getting fully vaccinated is the surest way to get protected”.

The chief of Domeabra, Baffour Owusu Bediako, appealed to the public to avail themselves of the COVID-19 vaccines.

He said even though the rate of infection had reduced, the danger still lurked and as such there was the need for people to protect themselves.

He said it had become necessary for the people to get vaccinated to protect themselves while awaiting the Christmas festivities.

More outlets

Some of the religious leaders appealed to the GHS to create more vaccination outlets and not limit it to just health facilities.

They said the exigencies of the current economic system were such that people would not have the time to go to the health centres to get vaccinated but would rather access outlets that were closer to them and not congested.

The current exercise has been expanded to include pregnant women and children aged 15 and above.