Ghana will on Wednesday, May 19 begin administering the second doses of Covishield, the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, to the segmented groups who received their first doses in March.
The exercise, which would be undertaken in 43 selected districts across the country, would cover frontline health workers, adults of 60 years and above, frontline government officials, media practitioners, frontline workers in the formal sector and persons with underlining health conditions.
More than 400,000 doses of the Covishiled are available to begin the administration of the second dose to about 900,000 persons.
This follows the receipt of some additional of 350,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, at the Kotoka International Airport, from the Democratic Republic of Congo under the Covax facility, in the early hours of Friday, May 7.
The vaccines received today are an addition to the 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine received on February 24, 2021.
The Indian Government and MTN Africa have also donated some doses in addition to what the Government of Ghana procured.
Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview, in Accra, on Friday, that the vaccines received from Congo would expire on June 24, approximately seven weeks from now.
“We will be getting in touch with people to come for their second doses through test messages, calls, and public announcements,” he said.
He explained that Congo’s consignment was shipped to Ghana after it failed to utilise them weeks after receiving them.
“The vaccine we received today from Congo is part of the first batch we received in February – COVAX re-allocated them to Ghana because Congo has not been able to utilise theirs,” he said Dr Asiedu-Bekoe said Ghana would be able to deploy the 350,000 vaccines in a few days.
He said government is expecting that by June or July, there would be a reasonable amount of vaccines available to vaccinate the public as it remained focused on its target to vaccinate 20 million Ghanaians at the end of the year.
The Director of Public Health said the vaccine gave a level of protection by reducing severe infections and deaths from the coronavirus but not a hundred per cent guarantee of protection against the virus.
He, therefore, advised the public to keep adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols by wearing face masks, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, coughing or sneezing into tissues and washing of hands with soap under running water.
Ghana, on Tuesday, March 2, kicked off its mass COVID-19 vaccination exercise in 42 selected districts in the Greater Accra, Kumasi and Western regions.
As of Friday, April 30, a total of 849,527 AstraZeneca vaccines had been administered to the public.
Ghana recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020. So far 92,513 cases have been confirmed with 783 deaths. There are 1583 confirmed cases.
The novel coronavirus was first recorded in the Wuhan city of China in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It has an incubation period of four to six days and fatal, especially for those with a weakened immune system – the elderly and the very young. It could also result in pneumonia and bronchitis.