Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health, has advised the public to disregard misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccination on social media.
He said the misconceptions, negative messages and videos in circulation were the creation of anti-vaccine campaigners, seeking to confuse the public for “their own selfish interests.”
“It is never true that the COVID-19 vaccines have tracking devices in them, or when you take it you will not be able to give birth, neither is it true that they were developed to kill Africans.”
“Rather, like previous ones, the COVID-19 vaccine seeks to build an immunity and protect the public against contracting the virus,” Dr Nsiah-Asare said.
He said this during a virtual “Roundtable Discussion on COVID-19 Vaccines: Misconceptions and the Way Forward,” organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) in Accra on Thursday.
He explained that vaccines had been with us for decades, including what had been used to eliminate the six childhood killer diseases.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said all COVID-19 vaccines that government was securing had passed the required internationally accepted rigorous clinical trials for human vaccination, hence their safety and efficacy were highly guaranteed.
He said there was a huge information and communication gap regarding the development of vaccines among Africans, including Ghanaians, which called for intensified public education to demystify the negative propaganda surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.
That called for enlightening the populace about the current adoption of new technologies by the scientific community and pharmaceutical industry to achieve faster results without compromising on safety and efficacy.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the available vaccines had proven to be effective and Ghana needed to break the coronavirus transmission chain through vaccination, which was “certainly the surest way to quickly achieve the elimination of this global pandemic.”
He said the immunisation centres and the process of vaccination would soon be announced through an aggressive media campaign to inform and educate the public on what to do, and where to seek advice, as well as hotline numbers to call should there be any challenges.
Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, the Programme Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), said the vaccination process would be done in three segments.
The first involves healthcare workers, frontline security personnel, persons with underlining health conditions, front line members of the executive, legislature and judiciary, as well as persons aged 60 and above.
The second segment would focus on essential service providers and other security agencies such as water and electricity suppliers, teachers, the media, farmers as well as the food value chain players among others, before reaching out to the entire public in the final segment.
He said Ghana would need over 42 million doses of the drugs to be able to reach out to its 20 million population target, with a double dose for each person.
Dr Amponsa-Achiano gave assurance of the availability of excess capacity of storage facilities, especially in the regional capitals, and that for the newly created regions and districts, plans were underway to ensure a pool chain storage.
Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, a Pharmacist, in a presentation, explained how the global scientific and economic community zoomed into action right from the onset to develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 as a long-term solution, with the knowledge that interim measures such as restrictions of human movements could not be sustained over a lengthy period.
He said they took the financial risk to venture into developing the vaccines once the genetic sequence of the virus was ascertained.
“Vaccine development in non-pandemic setting is a multi-year process. In pandemic situations the process can be effectively accelerated at risk of financial loss without sacrificing safety and efficacy,” he said.
Dr Sarpong Asiedu said Ghana must work towards achieving a high “Herd Immunity” threshold of over 70 per cent against wild viruses, and called for urgent discussions on the issue of vaccine hesitancy and nationalism in the context of national and global health security.
Dr Derrick Edem Akpalu, a Development Fellow at the CDD, said the delay in acceptance of vaccines had cost Africans so much, compared to what pertained in the developed countries.
He said a recent study, for instance, showed only 41.7 per cent of Ghanaians accepting to take the COVID-19 vaccine, hence the need to close the information gap on clinical trials on vaccines for improved healthcare.
Ms Kathleen Addy, the Deputy Commissioner, National Commission for Civic Education, however, said her outfit had commenced a training programme, in partnership with institutions such as the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Medical Association, for all its directors countrywide.
This would equip them with the adequate information on the vaccination process and for effective rollout of the national COVID-19 immunisation campaign, she said.