Mass COVID-19 vaccination turnout impressive - Dr Amponsa-Achiano

President Akufo-Addo took his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the 37 Military Hospital

Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service, has hailed Ghanaians for showing interest and commitment in the on-going COVID-19 mass vaccination exercise.

He said the Service was impressed by the massive turnout by Ghanaians at centres earmarked for the exercise despite earlier skepticism it had due to the misconceptions regarding the safety of the vaccines.

In an interview with the media on the side-lines of the National Delegates Congress of Community Health Nurses, Ghana (CHNG) in Accra on Thursday, Dr Amponsa-Achiano said the GHS was overwhelmed by the level of interest and patronage by Ghanaians.

The three-day delegate congress, organised by the CHNG and the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, was to elect substantive leaders to run the affairs of the community health nurses.

It was under the theme: “Harnessing Community Nurses’ Prospects, Fulcrum to Attain Preventive Health as a Nation.”

Dr Amponsa-Achiano said: "Initially because of the hesitancy and conspiracy theories we were a bit skeptical and cautiously hopeful but the turnout has been impressive," he said.

He, however, attributed the high turn out to the sensitisation exercise undertaken by the GHS prior to the enrollment of the exercise.

He said, so far, an estimated 30,500 people had been vaccinated as of Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

“Out of this, about 16,990 of them are males while 13,450 are females,” he said.

He further disclosed that about 11,500 frontline health workers had also been vaccinated.

Ghana, on February 24, took delivery of 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX facility for free. Government is looking to vaccinate about 20 million of the population against the virus.

Dr Amponsa-Achiano said the GHS was considering extending the duration of the exercise from seven to 14 days due to some challenges including tablet malfunctions and overcrowding witnessed in some districts and regions.

“Initially, we hope to complete the first phase within 7-days but due to some challenges witnessed in some districts and regions we intend to extend the duration by seven more days,” he explained.

He commended frontline health workers, particularly community health nurses, for their selfless effort to the delivery of healthcare in hard-to-reach communities across the country.

Mrs Perpetual Ofori Ampoful, President, GRNMA, said the role of community health nurses could not be underestimated in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage since they were located in the remotest of places across the country.

She, therefore, assured the group of the Association’s support towards ensuring that they had better conditions of service.

She called for a unified force among healthcare groups to ensure their needs were met.

“We need a unified force to achieve better working conditions. At any point in time we must be singing the same song so that our stakeholders will appreciate and respect us when we are talking about certain issues,” Mrs Ampoful said.

Mr Felix Hagan, Interim Chairman of CHNG, appealed to the Ministry of Health and its agencies to prioritise implementation of the conditions of service of community health nurses to reduce their plight.

He called for the improvement in healthcare delivery in the communities to eradicate communicable diseases such as poliomyelitis, small pox, and guinea worm.

The CHNG is one of 17 specialised groups under the GRNMA.

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