More children not receiving full vaccination against killer diseases

More children aged between two and three years in the country are not receiving full vaccination against all childhood killer diseases.

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A survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicates that the percentage of children aged 24 to 35 months who were not fully vaccinated in line with the national schedule increased by 15.1 percentage points between 2014 and 2022.

The study said almost three in every five, representing 57.6 per cent in that age range had not been fully vaccinated according to the national schedule in 2022, compared to about two in every five, representing 42.5 per cent in that age range who had not been fully vaccinated in 2014.

Being fully vaccinated in line with the national routine vaccination programme schedule for ages 24 to 35 months means that a child had received all doses of 11 childhood vaccines.
Under the routine vaccination programme, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease; oral polio vaccine (OPV); Measles-Rubella; Meningitis and Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B, yellow fever vaccine and malaria vaccines are administered.

World Immunisation

In a statement to commemorate the World Immunisation Week, the GSS said more than half of children aged 24 to 35 months were not vaccinated in line with the national schedule in 10 out of the 16 regions.

“The highest percentage was recorded in the Northern Region where four in every five — 81.5 per cent-had not been fully vaccinated.” The Statistical Service said the data was contained in the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) data on children for whom vaccination information was recorded in their vaccination cards.

The World Immunisation Week is commemorated annually in the last week of April to promote the use of vaccines to save lives. The 2024 celebration, from April 24 to April 30, marks the 50th anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) of the Ghana Health Service. 

Regional

Giving the regional breakdown, the GSS said “in the Western Region, 68.5 per cent, had not been vaccinated while in the Savannah Region 66.9 per cent were not vaccinated, representing the next highest percentage of children in this age range not fully vaccinated according to the national schedule,” the statement said.

The region with the lowest percentage of children who had not received all age-appropriate vaccines was Volta Region, with 26.7 per cent, followed distantly by Greater Accra with 40.4 per cent, the Ghana Statistical Service said.

The service said the percentage of children aged 24 to 35 months not fully vaccinated according to the national schedule was marginally lower in urban areas, standing at 56 per cent relative to the rural areas which was currently at 58.9 per cent.

“A higher percentage of girls of almost 60 per cent had not been fully vaccinated in comparison to 55.6 per cent of boys not fully vaccinated,” the statement said.

Impact

Regardless of the challenges, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, told the Daily Graphic that immunisation coverage had been impressive, between 80 and 90 per cent coverage in most instances.

He said efforts were being made to cover all unreached children population, saying that was a topmost priority for the GHS. Dr Kuma-Aboagye said vaccination was very critical to the phenomenon that a child’s first five years of life were the most critical to its survival and proper development.

He said through vaccination, the country had eliminated wild polio since 2008, as well as maternal and neonatal tetanus since 2011, with drastic reduction in diarrhoea diseases among children.

He said childhood pneumonia and meningitis had also reduced partly due to vaccinations. However, he said the GHS and its stakeholders were working hard to improve on those strides and ensure that no child was lost to preventable diseases, especially those that could be prevented through immunisation.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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