Government of Ghana on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 became the first country in the world to receive 600,000 COVAX COVID-19 vaccines [Covishield AstraZeneca] produced by the Serum Institute of India under the Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility).
Ghana is, among 92 countries globally, to have signed unto the COVAX Facility and two billion vaccines are expected to be supplied to low and middle-income countries, this year.
The vaccines were received on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport by Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister-designate for Health, and was accompanied by some officials from the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Health, representatives of UNICEF, WHO and COVAX Facility.
The vaccines touched down at the airport via the Emirates flight around 0745 hours.
After inspection by the government delegation, the vaccines were loaded into specially-made container-vans belonging to the Ghana Health Service and conveyed to storage facilities, with conducive temperatures for safe keeping.
From March 2, 2021, the vaccines will be deployed in health facilities and designated centres in the geographical regions.
It is expected that residents in the Greater Accra Metropolitan area, including; Kasoa in the Awutu Senya East and Greater Kumasi Metropolitan and Obuasi Municipal areas would be the first to be vaccinated.
The first category of people expected to take first shots of the vaccines include, health care workers, frontline security personnel, persons with known underlying medical conditions, 60 years and above persons and frontline members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has, so far, approved Coveshield AstraZeneca vaccines produced by Serum Institute of India and Sputnik-V vaccines from Russia for mass immunisation in Ghana, starting from March to October, this year’.
The vaccines would be administered in three phases, with each person expected to take two doses to help create head immunity for the population.
It is estimated that 20 million Ghanaians would be vaccinated across the 260 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
The Ghana Health Service has trained over 12,500 vaccinators, 2,000 supervisors and 37,413 volunteers.
Meanwhile, a statement signed and issued by Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the President’s Representative at the Information Ministry, said government remained resolute in ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and protecting them from the virus.
It said government was making efforts to acquire vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multilateral agencies.
“We encourage you to do your part by ensuring that you get vaccinated when the vaccines get to you.
“We acknowledge the hard work of the technical teams from the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information, the COVID-19 Task Force and all those who have assisted in getting us this far. Our development partners are also acknowledged for their tremendous financial and technical support.
It is our hope that they will continue to support us in our sustained efforts in combating the virus and putting COVID-19 behind us,” the statement said.
Government said there would be elaborate stakeholder engagements and sustained public sensitisation campaigns by the Ghana Local Service (GLS), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service (GHS) National Commission for Civic Education(NCCE) and Information Services Department (ISD), to educate the public on the upcoming immunisation exercise.
Health staff from the GHS, ISD and NCCE would visit markets, lorry parks, churches, mosques and other public places, with vans to sensitise the public, explain and answer questions regarding the vaccination exercise.
The media is encouraged to continue partnering government in educating the public on the vaccination programme as well as advocating strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety and preventive protocols.
Ghana is said to have a robust immunisation programme, dating back to 1978, with more than 90 per cent coverage.
Ghana’s Case Count
As at February 20, Ghana had recorded 81,245 cases of the Coronavirus disease, out of which 6,614 were active.
Data from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) also indicated that two more persons had died, bringing the total number of deaths to 584. It said 95 persons were in severe condition, while 29 were critical.