In Ghana: Covid vaccines expiring due to vaccine hesitancy

Deep-seated misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccines are scuttling Ghana’s inoculation timelines and targets, culminating in the expiration of precious vaccines in parts of the country.

Vaccine hesitancy, which is characterised generally by the delay in acceptance or the refusal to take the Covid jabs, is so widespread in Ghana that for the first time, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has ruled out the possibility of meeting the target of vaccinating 15 million Ghanaians by end of this year.

With barely two weeks to end the year, the GHS has been able to fully administer just a little above 3 million jabs – way below the 15 million target.

Programme Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Kwame Amponsah-Achiano, has revealed an undisclosed number of vaccines in the Volta Region has expired due to vaccine hesitancy.

Speaking at the 9th Leadership Dialogue Series organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Dr Amponsah-Achiano said although there have been efforts to fight conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines, they remain active.

Addressing the virtual conference with other public health experts on the theme ‘COVID-19: Is Ghana ready for 4th wave and Omicron’, Dr Amponsah-Achiano appealed to the media and other thought leaders to actively join the fight against vaccine hesitancy fueled by misconceptions about infertility and male potency.

While global vaccine politics prevents countries in Africa from accessing vaccines for their populations, Ghana has been lucky. Since September this year, the United States, for instance, has donated 5.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Ghana.

To ramp up vaccination numbers, the government has made it mandatory for all civil servants, including health workers, security personnel, and teachers, to take the jab.

Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a statement said the country needs to implement stricter measures as COVID-19 cases in the country have reached alarming levels.

While some have hailed this move in the wake of the detection of Omicron during community testing, there is simmering opposition to this mandatory vaccination drive.

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