The Ministry of Health has announced the procurement of a vaccine storage facility with the capacity to store 10 million doses Pfizer vaccines at a go. They include 58 ultralow temperature vaccine freezers, 50 normal vaccine fridges, 3000 Ice Pack Freezers and 300 cold boxes. The vaccine fridges and freezers can provide storage temperatures from -83°C to +8°C.
Procured by government at an estimated cost of US$8million dollars, the fridges are expected to accelerate the country’s target of inoculating at least 20 million of the population by the end of the year.
The storage facilities put the nation in the position to receive larger quantities of ultra-low vaccines such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna which have recently been approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
At a brief handing over ceremony, Mr. Agyeman-Manu said the move is to get the country ready for the importation of any of the approved vaccines to enhance its COVID-19 immunisation coverage.
He indicated that the freezers were equipped with real time monitoring systems to track their performance, adding that they also had protection against damage caused by power fluctuations and in events where power supply is interrupted, the freezers could maintain their set temperature for at least 10 hours.
“They are also equipped with systems that uses carbon dioxide or dry ice to maintain the temperature where there is no power or during fault condition and the cold-boxes will be used for outreach immunisation,” he stated.
The Minister pointed out that the fridges and freezers would be deployed to all 16 regions to maintain vaccines at right temperatures for immunization of the population. He disclosed that some COVID-19 vaccines were expected by close of the week with about 1.2 million Pfizer vaccines expected before the end of the month.
The Public Relations Office at the Ministry of Health, Elorm Ametepe disclosed to the B&FT that, the storage capacity can amount to 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“The storage facility we have can store all vaccines but specifically on its capacity, if we use the doses of the Pfizer vaccines it can store 10 million at a go. It means if we mix it with others the numbers will reduce a bit, but we are certain that at a go, with the mixture of all other vaccines we can do 6-8 million. But for only Pfizer we can do 10 million doses at a go.
Obviously, we would not be storing all the vaccines for long. The priority is to distribute it quickly to help the nation achieve its head immunity target as quickly as possible to support economic planning. Therefore, 18 distribution cold vans are expected to arrive in the coming days to support the vaccination programme.”
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye lauded government for the move which he believed would go a longer way to boost healthcare delivery. “Vaccination is something that will stay with us for a long time so these fridges will go a long way to harness immunization and help in storing new vaccines that will come into the country,” he said.
The DG assured that deployment would be done as soon as possible across all regions as the GHS strengthens its surveillance and testing systems especially in hot spot areas to contain spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Government had planned to procure at least 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by end of June this year, but that projection hit a snag following global vaccine shortage. So far, about 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccines have been deployed across the country of which 865,422 persons have taken a first jab and 405,971 receiving both doses, as of July 14, 2021.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu used the opportunity to entreat the public particularly managers of schools to ensure strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols to contain surge in cases across the country.