The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has made a passionate appeal to the public to disregard all myths and misconceptions around COVID-19 vaccines.
His appeal comes on the back of complaints by some health facilities that they are recording some level of hesitancy in public uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines, which has been attributed to associated myths and misconceptions making the rounds.
The director-general assured the public that vaccination had been proved to be the most effective way of breaking the transmission of pandemics.
“Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and death; the vaccines are safe, effective and free,” he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said COVID-19 vaccines boosted the immune system to fight the disease better and helped to avert severe illness and death.
He appealed to the public to accept any of the vaccines available because each of them provided adequate protection.
Availability of vaccines
As of October 21, this year, the country had taken delivery of 7,339,330 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, out of which over 2,842,857 doses had been administered nationwide.
About 3.6 million doses are currently in stock to be deployed for the second phase of vaccination, while about four million doses are expected before the close of the month.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye reminded the public that the GHS had started the second phase of the National COVID-19 Deployment Plan targeted at the entire population, except people under 18 and expectant mothers, who would be catered for later.
He explained that the exempt group would eventually be vaccinated following adequate scientific evidence of safety.
He further indicated that the second phase was being carried out on the theme: "Protect yourself, protect your family and get vaccinated against COVID-19".
He said the service had increased vaccination centres to include virtually all health facilities as part of efforts to bring the vaccines closer to everybody.
“The GHS has started to expand the vaccination exercise to the general population in order to achieve herd immunity and subsequently reduce the burden of the disease. Currently, over two million people in Ghana have received at least a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
While reassuring the public that both international and national due diligence had been done to ensure that only safe and efficacious vaccines were administered, he pleaded with the public to disregard all myths and misconceptions and avail themselves for the jabs.
He said Ghana was on course and was steadily progressing towards reaching the targeted herd immunity of vaccinating 20 million people.
He said the rollout of the second phase followed the successful completion of the first phase which saw the vaccination of all identified vulnerable group and key population.
“The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country started in phases among segmented populations in March 2021. The initial phase of the rollout, which targeted segmented populations who are at most risk, has been completed,” he said.
Safety and efficacy
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said 98 per cent of people affected and hospitalised under the third wave, plus majority of the deaths, were among persons who had not taken any jab at all.
He said apart from the benefits of getting vaccinated against the disease, such as protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death, the level of acceptance by the public was what would help increase the country’s accessibility to the vaccines.
He explained that the major vaccination challenge for most African countries was access to the vaccines and so when global actors in their purchase and distribution trusted a country’s system and prioritised it over others in terms of access but the indigenes refused to take the vaccines, causing them to go waste, supply to that country would be stopped or limited.
“Ghana has come a long way in the fight against COVID-19. Since the country recorded its first cases of COVID-19, many efforts have been made to bring the burden of the disease to its barest minimum.
“In addition to the preventive measures, such as wearing nose masks at public places, avoiding crowded places, frequently washing of hands with soap under running water and keeping a physical distance of 1-2 metres, vaccination against COVID-19, an important and essential tool in the fight against the pandemic, has been added to the preventive and protective measures,” he said.
“To date, Ghana has distributed over four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all regions. All our efforts at reducing the spread of COVID-19 are yielding results. However, the end to the pandemic is far from sight. Now that vaccines are available, the time to get vaccinated is now!
“The Ministry of Health, the GHS and health partners are more than ever determined to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impact it has had on the lives of people living in Ghana. It is time to do your part by observing the preventive measures and, above all, getting vaccinated,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye added.