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Reducing vulnerability: Ghana Health Service encourages COVID-19 vaccination

BY: Doreen Andoh
Dr Kwame Amponsah-Achiano — Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) of the GHS
Dr Kwame Amponsah-Achiano — Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) of the GHS

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says the country can reduce its vulnerability to the ripple effects of the current growing COVID-19 cases in other parts of the world if eligible persons for vaccination avail themselves.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on the vaccination update, the Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) of the GHS, Dr Kwame Amponsah-Achiano, said achieving herd immunity – which means immunising majority of the adult population against COVID-19 – would reduce the country’s vulnerability to the global threat posed by any rising COVID-19 situation.

He said 10 million out of the approximately 18.6 million eligible adult population, representing approximately 60 per cent of the national population 15 years and above, had been fully vaccinated.

“In all, we have administered 22.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines; 12.9 million people have taken a dose each, while 10 million people are fully vaccinated. There remains more people to be vaccinated and the GHS encourages all eligible persons to get vaccinated now,” he said.

“When majority or almost all the eligible population are vaccinated, it serves as a protection layer for the population that are not eligible for the vaccine. That will also help in safeguarding public health, the reason the government has made available enough vaccines for all eligible persons,” he explained.

“Vaccines are very helpful because they protect patrons from severe illness and death from all variants of COVID-19. So a vaccinated person can be infected but the impact will be very minimal,” Dr Amponsah-Achiano said.

He, therefore, underscored the need for more eligible persons for COVID-19 vaccination to avail themselves to help prevent the country from being greatly affected by the current global trends.

Dr Amponsah-Achiano reiterated the fact that science had proved that COVID-19 vaccines were very safe and the most effective way to build resilience against the disease.

He said the vaccines provided adequate protection against severe COVID-19-related illness, hospitalisation and death.

The manager said the GHS was committed to intensifying its vaccination campaigns, increasing surveillance and advocacy, among other measures, to put the disease under control.

He appealed to all eligible unvaccinated and partially vaccinated to avail themselves immediately to help avert more waves of the pandemic and its socio-economic impact locally.

Protocols

The GHS EPI Manager said while the vaccines were very necessary, safety protocols still played a critical role in preventing spread and repeated infections that could result in long COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 complications.

Dr Amponsah-Achiano explained that the safety protocols were effective not only against COVID-19 but also helped in controlling other common health conditions.

He said the washing of hands had a major impact on the occurrence of cholera.

He said the wearing of face masks would help in preventing common colds and other respiratory infections for better health outcomes.

While agreeing that it was uncomfortable to wear face masks all day long, he said it was very imperative that people wore them in enclosed areas and overcrowded places where transmission was high.

Background

The country began its COVID-19 vaccination on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 as part of measures to stop the spread of the disease.

That followed the arrival of the first 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, on February 24, 2021.

That made Ghana the first of 92 beneficiary countries to receive vaccines from the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


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