The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has appealed to unvaccinated members of the public to go in for the COVID-19 jabs to ensure that the country’s target for herd immunity was achieved, while preventing the vaccines from going bad.
The Head of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Dr Kwame Amponsah-Achiano, said although no vaccine in stock at present had yet expired, about 900,000 AstraZeneca vaccines could expire by November 30 if public apathy towards vaccination persists.
“These vaccines are already in circulation and we are monitoring timelines. If we all go out there and get our shots, we should by the end of the year meet or be close to meeting our target of 60 percent herd immunity,” he said.
Dr Amponsah-Achiano was speaking with journalists on Monday when government received 1.7 million Pfizer vaccines donated by the United States Government under the COVAX facility.
It brings to a total of 4.2 million vaccines received by Ghana from the US in fulfilment of a pledge made by the Biden-Harris administration to donate at least 1.1 billion doses of Pfizer vaccines worldwide.
A delegation led by the US Ambassador of Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan, UNICEF Country Director, Anne-Claire Dufay, the Deputy Minister of Health, Alhaji Mahama Asei Seini and representatives of the GHS among others, received the consignment at the Kotoka International Airport.
The Programme Manager said, “For now, the vaccines are not a problem. We have enough vaccines; we just received additional 1.7 million Pfizer, 1.2 million Johnson and Johnson and have about eight million more in the pipeline which we are expecting in the coming days.
He said the GHS had over three million vaccines in stock to be deployed under the COVID-19 immunisation programme and so far, only six percent of the Ghanaian population were fully vaccinated with nearly 24 percent having received a first dose of vaccines.
“We have about 4.8 million doses delivered, some have received one dose and others, 2 doses; 4.6 million people have taken at least a dose and almost 1.2 million are fully vaccinated,” he disclosed.
Dr Amponsah-Achiano expressed the hope that the expansion of eligibility criteria to include minors for COVID-19 vaccination would help efforts at attaining herd immunity.
The US Ambassador, Ms. Sullivan expressed the hope that “these life-saving vaccines will help save Ghanaian lives as we work together to defeat this virus.”
“These doses are the same safe and effective vaccines used in the US and there is no better time for Ghanaians to protect their families and communities by getting the jab,” she urged the public.
Ms Dufay, the Country Director of UNICEF, stressed the need for all to vaccinate against COVID-19 and yellow fever, which had broken out in parts of the country.
“We need to vaccinate to protect ourselves and loved ones, especially as the Christmas festivities draw close. Only together can we end this pandemic,” she said.
For his part, Alhaji Seini thanked the US government for its continuous support of Ghana’s COVID-19 fight, promising to ensure safe, swift and equitable distribution of the vaccines to protect Ghanaians.