Mr Abdul Jabaru, a fuel attendant in Tamale, took his COVID-19 vaccine last year. At that time, messages on the safety of the vaccine and the need for people to avail themselves for it were common on traditional and some social media platforms as well as at social gatherings.
However, a few months down the line, he does not hear such messages again. He says this may make some people think that the COVID-19 is no more, hence they would not avail themselves for the vaccine.
Miss Mariam Abdulai, a student, who has taken her COVID-19 jab, says she does not remember the last time she heard campaigns on the safety of the vaccine and the need for people to take it.
“This is the time to intensify the campaigns since the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in order not to plunge the country into another wave of the disease,” she said.
Mr Jabaru and Ms Abdulai are not the only persons having realised that Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has taken a nosedive. A lot more citizens share similar views and will want the vaccination campaign revived to enable the country to achieve her vaccination target and herd immunity to protect the populace.
National vaccination coverage targets and progress of vaccination
The country recorded her first two cases of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020. Since then, Ghana has experienced four waves of the outbreak. As of March 25, 2022, a total of 160,932 people tested positive from the 2.4 million tests conducted in the country.
Of the figure 1,445 people died. The country, on February 24, 2021, received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines paving the way for mass vaccination to begin in March, 2021.
A target of procuring and administering 17.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first half of 2021 was set. However, this target was missed. On March 27, 2022, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his 28th COVID-19 address to the nation, announced a new target, which was to vaccinate 20 million people by June, this year, adding that 13.1 million people had been vaccinated.
“Whilst we have not achieved our national vaccination coverage target, it is significant to note that reasonable vaccination coverages have been achieved in the hotspots of infections, particularly in the urban areas of Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi,” he said.
Turning the tide
The President announced the lifting of most of the COVID-19 restrictions during his 28th address to the nation. The lifting of the restrictions took effect from March 28, 2022.
He gave the reasons for lifting the restrictions, saying: “Indeed, as of Friday, 25th March 2022, the total number of active cases stood at seventy-two (72). There are not severely or critically ill persons. Our COVID-19 treatment centers are empty, and the fourth wave appears to be over.”
Bearing in mind what the lifting of the restrictions could result in vis-a-vis the low level of vaccination, the President assured the citizenry that the “Government is determined to use all means to increase the deployment of vaccination across the country to achieve our target of vaccinating some 20 million Ghanaians by June.”
This, therefore, calls for an enhanced campaign to encourage people to endeavour to take their jabs as some think the disease is no more, hence there is no need for that.
As witnessed over the last four waves, COVID-19 is unpredictable and peaks when the factors in the population are conducive. The country needs to step up her vaccination campaign during this crucial period so as not to be caught off-guard.
The government, private sector, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, chiefs, community leaders and the entire populace must do all they can to encourage people to go for the vaccine.
The way forward
The World Health Organisation has emphasised that “unvaccinated people are at higher risk of death from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated people. Vaccines work to save lives.”
Achieving the national vaccination coverage target will ensure a form of herd immunity in the country to help protect all the population against the disease.
The citizens must contribute to ensuring that the normal life being enjoyed following the lifting of the restrictions were not curtailed because of another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The earlier the country intensifies her vaccination drive the better.
By Albert Futukpor