Gov’t to break COVID-19 transmission chain with deliberate vaccine plan

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… prepares to deploy 350,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from March

Government, through the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has indicated that it will along with the preaching of adherence to the protocols – face masking, physical distancing, hand washing/sanitizing – leverage the upcoming vaccination programme in a manner that will break the chain of COVID-19 transmission across the country.

Director General of the GHS, Dr. Patrick KumaAboagye, made this known at a Public Engagement on COVID-19 Vaccination Roll Out Plan organised by the Ministry of Information.

“Ghana’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been through the adoption of several measures. Unfortunately, our gains are being eroded by non-adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, including low face-mask use. There is a need to break the chain of transmission by using vaccination,” Dr. KumaAboagye said at the Public Engagement.

The country is preparing to receive and deploy 350,000 doses of AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S) COVID-19 vaccines from next month, and vaccinate all through to October. It hopes that successful deployment of the vaccine in the country will potentially contribute to a reduction in COVID-19 ill-health and death; reduce the disruption of social and economic functions; enhance the mental and psychosocial wellbeing of Ghanaians; and facilitate smooth cooperation in relations between the country and global community among others.

Since beginning of the year, the nation has been dealing with a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed a lot of lives in its short existence compared to the same period of the first wave. Its intensity has pushed government to announce the reimposition of a raft of restrictions to help curb the rising COVID-19 infections.

Key among the measures is that funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances and parties are banned, but private burials with not more than 25 persons in attendance can be held. Beaches, night-clubs, cinemas, and pubs also remain shut.

Even with these measures in place, there seem to be little effect on dealing with spread of the pandemic as the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has put the average cases per day between 500 to 750. Active cases continue to increase, and all 16 regions have reported active cases.

Vaccine distribution

Programme Manager-Expanded Programme on Immunisation at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, explained that distribution strategies will be based on segmentation of the population – but ultimately, the entire population will be considered.

Twenty million persons are being targetted for the initial stage. They include: health workers, persons with underlying health conditions, security personnel, other essential service providers, persons above 60 years, second cycle and tertiary students, teachers at all levels, specialised groups on national assignments, Executive/Legislature/Judiciary/MDAs, Media among others.

The target persons have been divided into four groups. Group-one comprises persons at most risk: healthcare workers, frontline security personnel, persons with known underlying medical conditions, 60+ year-old persons, frontline members of the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Group-two comprises other essential service providers including the rest of the security agencies. Also included are water supply services; electricity supply services; teachers and students; supply and distributors of fuel; farmers and food value chain; telecommunications services; air traffic and civil aviation control services; meteorological services; air transport services; waste management services; media; public and private commercial transport services.

Securities and Intelligence Agencies: The Police Service; Armed Forces; Prisons Service; Immigration Service; National Fire Service; CEPS Division of the rest of Ghana Revenue Authority; Rest of the Arms of Government: Executive; Judiciary; Legislature.

The rest of the general public – that is, all persons 18 years and over excluding pregnant women – are in Group-3. Group-4 comprises all others (when an approved vaccine for this category is found), pregnant mothers and persons under 18-years.

Human resources

The nation will deploy 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2,079 team supervisors for a planned 2-round vaccination campaign.

Estimated cost

The country has estimated that, approximately, it will cost US$2.60-US$3 to vaccinate each person fully, which includes two doses.

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