A total of 21,951 children under five years have since 2019 been vaccinated against malaria in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam (AEE) District of the Central Region.
Data available indicated that out of the number, 722 had completed the full four doses with 6,428 completing the third doses, while 7,724 and 7,077 have also completed their first and second jabs respectively.
Malaria continues to be a major global health challenge, with six African countries including Nigeria and Tanzania accounting for around half of the 409,000 people who died from the disease in 2019 globally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The AEE District Director of Health Service, Stephen Tietoh in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on Wednesday, said the 722, which refers to children who have received all four doses, was likely to go up since all the data had not been entered.
He said the service was impressed with the massive turnout by parents at centres earmarked for the vaccination exercise despite earlier skepticisms about it in a section of the public.
“Initially, because of the hesitancy and conspiracy theories, they (parents) were a bit skeptical and cautiously hopeful but the turnout has been impressive,” he noted.
Mr Tietoh expressed the hope that the vaccination campaign will further contribute to a reduction in cases in the district and by larger extension, in the country, hence encouraging parents to bring their babies for vaccination.
“I will implore Ghanaians not to give in to the negative narratives about the vaccine,” he said, adding that the jab has been duly certified by the authorities. It is safe,” he indicated.
Mr Tietoh said no vaccine would be deployed in the country for use without certification by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), saying “I believe the vaccine has not been created to wipe out the African race. However, there are still some people who continue to express doubts about the vaccine; others have expressed reservations about its efficacy with some taking sides with conspiracy theorists.”
A Registered Community Nurse, Janet Pakie Naoh, encouraged the public to keep adhering to the malaria prevention protocols such as sleeping under treated mosquito nets, pointing out that the vaccine would reduce the number of times a child gets sick with malaria but not a total remedy to prevent malaria in those vaccinated.
Speaking on how it is being administered, Miss Naoh said babies aged six months were eligible for the first dose and that the second dose is given a month later while the third and fourth doses are given at nine months and two years respectively.
Interacting with Ama Boadi, a mother of one, whose child had successfully completed the four doses, she encouraged all mothers with babies to get their babies vaccinated to supplement other preventive measures.
FROM BENEDICTA GYIMAAH FOLLEY, AJUMAKO