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COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy worrying - Immunisation coordinator

BY: Alberto Mario Noretti
Emmanuel Bonsu, Volta Regional Coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation
Emmanuel Bonsu, Volta Regional Coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation

Only 17 per cent of Volta Region’s targeted population of 1.34 million have so far been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

With a total population of 1.95million, only about a quarter of the target population have received one dose of the vaccine, while 11.8 per cent have taken their first booster jabs.

Health authorities have attributed the high level of the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the region to widespread misinformation, disinformation and misconceptions about the vaccine among the populace.

The Regional Coordinator of the Expanded Programme in Immunisation (EPI), Emmanuel Bonsu, speaking at a media engagement and stakeholders meeting on “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy” in Ho, said as of July 21, the Regional Directorate of Health had received a total 192, 7454 vaccines, comprising Astra Zeneca, Pfizer BionTech, Moderna and J&J (Jansen).

However, 42 per cent of the vaccines expired due to the very low uptake among the people.

Open threats

Throwing more light on the challenges, Mr Bonsu said immunisation teams in the region sometimes faced open threats of harm in some communities from locals unwilling to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to him, some people had also misconstrued the president’s easing of the COVID-19 protocols as an end to the pandemic, and for that matter, disregarded the safety precautions.

Mr Bonsu said there was the urgent need to intensify risk communication, social mobilisation and periodic intensification of routine COVID-19 vaccination in the communities and at all health facilities.

A Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Charles Agbeve, said the vaccine hesitancy situation in the region was a great cause for worry.

“This is more so, considering the fact that a whopping amount of GH¢200million was recently approved by Parliament to procure COVID-19 vaccines," he said.

Mr Agbeve, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Agotime-Ziope, urged the populace to ignore trending social media fallacies on the vaccine and go for the jab, which may come at a cost in future.

Another member of the select committee, Alex Hortodze, who is the NDC MP for Central Tongu, expressed similar sentiments and said it took healthy citizens to build a strong nation.

The acting Regional Director of Health, Dr Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, pointed out that COVID-19 easily afflicted those with less immunity against it and that made the vaccination important.

The Paramount Chief of Ziavi, Togbe Kwaku Ayim IV, who presided over the meeting, attributed the vaccine hesitancy partly to disrespect for state authority by some citizens.

“I have taken the vaccine and I am still alive, so others can also go for it now,” he added.

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