Importance of full vaccination against COVID-19

Vaccines over the years have been proven to be one of the effective ways to tackle diseases in the world.

Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them.

Some vaccines for diseases such as Hepatitis B (HepB)  (2nd dose), Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis), Hemophilic influenza type B disease  Polio (IPV), Pneumococcal disease and Rotavirus among others have helped to protect children against such diseases.

In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, many lives were lost world wide due to the absence of medicines and vaccines.

The pandemic took the world by surprise, but nearly a year, researchers in the medical field have come out with various vaccines.

Each COVID-19 vaccine causes the immune system to create antibodies to fight the virus. COVID-19 vaccines use a harmless version of a spike-like structure on the surface of the COVID-19 virus

So far, Ghana has received AstraZeneca vaccine, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson Sputnik V from Germany, Demark, Norway and Iceland.

On February, 24 2021, Ghana became the first country to receive 600,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) scheme.

Ghana became the first of 92 beneficiary countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ghana’s policy is to create herd immunity by vaccinating at least 20 million out of the current estimated 30.8 million Ghanaians and the first-ever COVID-19 vaccination in the country begun on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, as a measure to curb the further spread of the disease.

 According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), as of June 30, this year, 17,409,005 Covid-19 vaccines doses have been administered, with persons receiving at least one dose as 10,733,719.

Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Programme Manager, Expanded Programme of Immunization, GHS in an interview, says7,510,586 persons have fully been vaccinated whiles1,192,595 persons have received first dose and 1,192,595 have received booster dose.

Out of 17,409,005 Covid-19 vaccines that have been administered to Ghanaians, 10, 096, 925 are AstraZeneca 17,982 are Sputnik-V,   Moderna, has 1,065,357, whiles Pfizer-BioNTech has 3,910,669 ,  with Janssen  having 2,318,072  vaccines.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), it still   does not know exactly how long protection from COVID-19 vaccines could lasts, but Immunity may reduce faster in people who are older or who have underlying medical conditions to the virus.

Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, advised those who required a second dose to do so to achieve the highest level of immunity possible.

“To protect yourself, get vaccinated and continue practicing the other protective behaviors against COVID-19,” he advised.

Dr. Amponsa-Achiano said there was the need for those who have taken only one dose and needed a second dose to go for it in order to be fully protected.

This according to him would help prevent the spread of the disease and also save lives.

He explained that there were enough boosters for every Ghanaian, and urged everyone who needed a booster to go for it.

He expressed worry about those who had never taken their COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “Those who have never taken the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have never been infected might be the next target of the virus so, we must all go for the vaccine”.

Dr. Amponsa-Achiano said the ease of COVID-19 restrictions might have contributed to low participation in the vaccine intake, adding that, since the ban was lifted, people have stopped wearing nose masks, whilst others did not want to go for the vaccine because they think the virus is no more.

 “COVID-19 is a virus that changes form and normally if a virus has many copies of the genetic materials, they can come back in different variances and they can reassert with other viruses and change form completely,” he said.

He said his outfit in December carried out a vaccination exercise where up to three million vaccines were administered, but it went down in January due to lack of campaign.

“Because December was the month of vaccination, we went up to three million and it went down in January and when we did the campaign in February it went up again. So, it is clear that anytime we have a campaign, it goes up,” he said.

Dr. Amponsa-Achiano said the exercise had helped a lot in educating the public about the virus and the need to take vaccines.

“For our next campaign, we will target 2 million instead of 2.5 million does, because, for the first campaign, we were over-ambitious and set a high  target of 2.5 million doses but we got 2.1 million doses, which were quite okay but it has been coming down gradually ever since. So, for our next campaign, the target will be 2 million instead of 2.5 million doses,” he explained.

“The campaigns have helped a lot because, anytime we organise a campaign, we begin to see the results within five to 10 days,” he added.

 “For the whole of May, we were doing about 545 and if we embark on a campaign and within 10 days, we get about a million, then, obviously, the campaigns are helping,” he said.

According to, Dr. Amponsa-Achiano, Upper West region is the only fully vaccinated region, followed by Greater Accra, Savanna region, North East, Bono, Upper East and at the bottom is Oti region.

He said Ghana has about seven to eight million vaccines at the national level and all the districts also have enough vaccines.

He advised the public against misconceptions and conspiracy theories flying on the media space about the vaccines and urged them take the vaccines to remain safe and healthy.

Maame Akua Darko, a trader at Makola, told the Ghanaian Times in an interview that she had her first jab of the Pfizer vaccine in December last year but could not go for the second dose in January as advised by the healthcare givers who vaccinated her, until in May because of the side effects some people complained of which scared her.

However, she told the paper that, after mustering the courage to go for the second dose, she never had any adverse reactions.

Yaw Barimah, a Carpenter, who had not gone for the COVID-19 vaccine said, there was no need for him to go for the vaccine, saying,  “I do not see why I should go for that vaccine; I am very strong and my immune system is strong, besides, I heard the vaccine can cause infertility”.

According to Abena Odamea, a Civil Servant, believes vaccines are not harmful because even babies receive different kinds of vaccines as they grow and nothing bad happens to them. So, I advise everybody to and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families.

BY AGNES OPOKU SARPONG        

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