On Wednesday 24 February 2021 the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana. According to the Ministry of Information, 600,000 doses of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India (Covishield) was delivered to the government of Ghana, where deployment of the vaccines is scheduled to start on March 2, 2021 among the segmented population in the country.
A week prior to this, on Friday, 19 February 2021, the Ministry of Information moderated a public engagement on the government of Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccination roll out plan.
According to Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, the Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service, the vaccine deployment which will be staggered in three phases is based on the assumption that the global supply will span a long period. In view of this, the strategy has groupings for the deployment from March to October 2021.
Group 1 are considered people at most risk and includes health care workers, frontline security personnel, persons with underlying health conditions, 60 and above persons, and frontline members of the executive, legislative and judiciary.
Group 2 includes the rest of the executive, legislative and judiciary, other essential service providers such as rest of security agencies, water supply agencies, electricity supply services, teachers and students, supply and distribution of fuels, farmers and food value chain, telecommunication services, air traffic and civil aviation services, meteorological services, air transport services, waste management services, media, public and private commercial transport services, the police service, the Armed Forces, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, National Fire Service, and the CEPS division of the rest of Ghana Revenue Authority.
Group 3 includes rest of the general public (all persons 18 years and above excluding pregnant women)
Group 4 includes pregnant women and persons under 18 years when an approved vaccine for this group is found.
Also, for all such persons considered, the vaccines will be deployed either via outreach, mobile, static, campout or a combination of all. More specifically, the following strategies will be deployed for the following groups as shown below:
|Target groups||Potential delivery strategy||Potential vaccination sites|
|Health workers||Fixed sites||Health centres, hospitals (public and private)|
|60+ persons||Fixed and outreach sites Temporary/ mobile clinicsMass campaigns||Health centres, hospitals, outreach points, pharmacies, marketplace and other public places, drive-through|
|Persons with underlying medical conditions||Fixed sites and outreach sitesTemporary/mobile clinics||Primary health care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, workplaces, through mobile teams for those confined at home, other public and private establishments|
|Other target groups||Fixed site and outreach sitesTemporary / mobile clinics Mass campaigns||Any of above plus special strategies to reach specialised population groups|
Additionally, the regions mapped out for the administering of the initial doses are ‘Greater Accra metro’ and ‘Greater Ashanti metro’ with ‘Western’ to follow next. This is based on the regional active cases and cumulative cases of COVID-19 over the period of March 2020 to February 2021 which showed these segmented regions to have recorded the highest cases in the country.
On account of the task ahead, Dr. Amponsa-Achiano added that there will be a deployment of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds of vaccination campaign. Training for the vaccination team will be restricted to smaller groups of both virtual and in-person practical approaches. To ensure vaccine safety, there will also be active and passive surveillance during and post campaign.
Also, he stated that to be considered fully vaccinated in Ghana, one is required to have two doses of the vaccines.
It is expected that public engagement on the COVID-19 vaccination roll out plan will be held periodically by the appropriate institutions in order to continually address outstanding concerns of citizens and convey government’s intentions on vaccination concurrently especially as the first consignment of vaccines have already arrived in the country. By so doing, it also equally immunizes the Ghanaian community against any potential vaccination misconception and misinformation.
Till then, for the minds still battling with vaccine hesitancy, as Dr. Yaw Bediako, an Immunologist and Research fellow at WACCBIP, assured, vaccines, are simple, safe, and effective as they:
1. protect people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them.
2. use the body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and make the immune system stronger.