Health authorities must modify message on COVID-19 vaccination – NGO

A non-governmental organisation, SEND-Ghana, has asked health authorities to modify its messages on the COVID-19 vaccination to encourage more people to take the vaccines and help achieve herd immunity.

Nearly two years after government rolled out the national deployment and vaccination plan (NDVP) on COVID-19 to vaccinate at least 20 million of the population and attain 60 percent herd immunity, the target was yet to be achieved due to high levels of hesitancy against the vaccines.

Disseminating findings of its recent monitoring report on the COVID-19 vaccination exercise at a public dialogue in Accra yesterday, Project Officer at SEND-Ghana, Anita Asare Awuku,advised that health authorities to project the potency of the vaccines to prevent possible deaths and extreme illness in one’s immediate surroundings in its communications.

“We need to focus less on mandates restricting access to services and employment reasons and focus more on the protection the vaccines offer to family members and friends, and the need for people to take them to reduce exposing their loved ones to the virus,” she urged.

Sampling 677 people, mainly teachers and healthcare workers, in eight urban and peri-urban districts and municipalities in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions, the report established that among a myriad of factors influencing the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines, the protection of family and friends topped the reasons most people took the jab.

Other factors were the prioritisation of key groups for the vaccination, confidence in the safety and potency of the vaccine, access to vaccinations centers and no cost implication in getting a jab.

Nonetheless, the report found that fears of side effects, doubts and uncertainty on the effectiveness of the vaccines, inadequate information and other personal reasons still militated against the uptake of the vaccines, urging health authorities to step up efforts in closing the gaps.

The Project Officer, thus, recommended that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) immediately convened refresher sessions for its staff on the NDVP to enhance high levels of compliance to the guidelines while supporting health directorates to sustain vaccine promotion efforts.

Ms Asare further urged the sector Ministry and the GHS to take dire steps to increase cold chain equipment and vaccine logistics across all districts of the country.

The Deputy Country Director of SEND-Ghana, Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, said government must draw on lessons of the COVID-19 to address gaps in the health system to be better prepared in the event of another pandemic.

According to him, the monitoring report reveals a generally satisfactory execution of the COVID-19 vaccination plan among citizens, with other infection prevention and control protocols largely observed.

While commending the GHS and health workers generally for exhibiting good attitude and professionalism during the vaccination exercise so far, Dr Ayifah warned that the virus still lurked around in the country, recording cases on daily basis which was why advocacy on the COVID-19 vaccination must be sustained.

“We will follow-up with the policy makers on the findings of this report, engage and monitor how recommendations are taken up and implemented to ensure we achieve herd immunity,” he said.

Currently, the GHS has administered over 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, yet about 8.7 million persons have received full vaccination so far.


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