COVID-19 upsurge alert: Go for jabs! …GMA, GRNMA worry over vaccine hesitancy

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) have expressed worry over vaccine hesitancy among health workers as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.

They estimate that of about 200,000 health workforce in the public sector, nearly 80,000 representing 40 per cent were yet to receive a second dose of vaccination with less than one per cent taking a booster jab.

It comes at a time the country’s active cases has risen to 1,255 as of yesterday, June 20, 2020 with a number of health staff reportedly infected with the virus.

“We see these developments as worrying especially concerning health workers. This is because health workers particularly doctors, nurses and midwives are not only on the frontline of care but remain the most trusted sources of information and access to vaccination,” president of the GMA, Dr Frank Serebour, said.

He was addressing a joint news conference to address hesitancy among healthcare workers and the general population to ramp up the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rate.

It kicks off series of activities to be embarked upon by both associations to build capacity in risk communication and community engagement to address issues of disinformation, myths and misconception surrounding COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the country.

The project targets at least 2,000 health workers to transform them into vaccination champions to scale up COVID-19 vaccination among health professionals.

It is under the “Good Life, Live it Well” campaign funded by the USAID and aimed at promoting positive health behaviour reduce disease prevalence among the population.

Dr Serebour, making reference to a report on overall vaccine hesitancy in Ghana, indicated that persons under 25 years were leading the score in the country.

“Data from GHS also indicates that 35 districts out of the 260 have less than 25 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated for COVID-19,” he added.

The GMA president reiterated the need for members of the public to continue adherence to the COVID-19 preventive protocols in the face of the recent surge of cases.

“We call on government and all stakeholders’, especially traditional and religious leaders, youth groups and the media to encourage vaccine acceptance and uptake particularly in districts with low uptake and among people under 25 years.

We must all support government to reach its target of vaccinating at least 22.9 million eligible Ghanaians in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus and prevent severe disease it causes,” he urged.

The president of GRNMA, Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, encouraged citizens to wear facemasks at all times especially in enclosed areas, imploring managers and organisers of enclosed events to enforce the wearing of masks.

“Use of hand sanitisers and washing of hands with soap under running water is still highly encouraged and the government and private sector actors must continue to support citizens with these facilities at vantage points,” she advised.

For his part, the Director of Health Promotion at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr DaCosta Aboagye, said the COVID-19 vaccines were safe and effective to reduce severe illness from the disease should one be infected.

He said the Service was committed to strengthening communication around the COVID-19 vaccines to increase uptake and improve systems around public health messaging in the near future to address issues of hesitancy.

So far, 16,639,049 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered among the Ghanaian population of which 10.4 million have received at least one dose and 7.1 million fully vaccinated.

About one million persons have also received booster jabs.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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