The conversation about the covid-19 and vaccinations continues to linger on as the government, through the Ghana Health Service (GHS) rolls out plans and programmes to ensure that about 20 million of the Ghanaian population would be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity by close of the year 2021.
There have been several interventions such as the COVAX provision of facilities such as cold chains to store the vaccines, and the training of key health staff to give the jabs a well as to manage adverse reactions of people when the need be.
However, there are more issues to deal with concerning vaccine hesitancy due to misconceptions and conspiracy theories, and myths leading to people’s refusal not to take the vaccine whiles the former is the case for many who have not taken the vaccine yet, for sheer fear of injections is the reason for some not taking the vaccine and not about the safety of the vaccines.
Under the Mobilising Media for Covid-19, a project being implemented by the Journalists for Human Rights and the Ghana Journalists Association, the Ghana News Agency interviewed some people who have not taken the vaccines yet and found out that most of them are needle phobia (Fear of the needle) and have no reservations about the vaccines.
Most of the people interviewed who were yet to take the vaccines indicated that for many years, they have not availed themselves for any form of injection and so their hesitancy against the covid-19 vaccination was not about the safety of the vaccines.
“The last time I took injection was 15 years ago and that experience still remains with me. I wish I can have the courage to take this covid-19 vaccination even the Johnson and Johnson which is only one shot”, Rose (not her real name) a banker, disclosed.
A 25-year old shoemaker, Yaw Akowu, also said his kid sister became paralysed after taking injection at the age of four, and so, had decided never to take any injection, but, he is prepared to take any other means of the vaccine if it comes in the form of drugs to protect himself and others but certainly not in the form of an injection.
Asked if he will advice others to take the vaccines, he replied: “Why not?, I have even contacted some of my clients who are nurses to know when the second jabs of the AstraZeneca will be ready to enable my in-laws and other relatives to go for their second dose”.
Madam Joyce Yirenkyiwaa, a 46-year old trader, also share the same sentiments that she had not taken the vaccine because of fear of the injection and nothing else, adding that, “I don’t believe in those myths that the vaccines are meant to kill us otherwise, all our children would have been dead by now because they have taken many vaccines during their childhood”.
She said inspite of being needle phobia, she believes in the potency of vaccines, hence, has vaccinated all her younger children against the six killer diseases pointing out that she has realised the difference between her two older children who were not vaccinated fully and the three younger ones who received all the vaccination schedules.
To the majority, even though they were afraid of injection, they were considering taking the Johnson and Johnson which is only one dose and hope that they would be able to psyche their minds for it in the larger interest of achieving a herd immunity as a country.
Research conducted by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and presented at a covid-19 Reporting and Misinformation Management Training for Journalists in Kumasi has shown that 47 percent of people are ready to take the covid-19 vaccinations, 35 percent are not prepared to take it whiles 17 percent were not too sure whether to take the vaccine or not.
However, Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Programmes Manager of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in a presentation at the workshop said the surest protection against the covid-19 and implications for the individual and in the larger interest of the population in achieving a herd immunity, the is the vaccination.
He said, “vaccination has been with us as Africans and Ghanaians in particular for a long time, and, therefore, should not have fears and hesitancy for vaccines including that of the different types of the covid-19 vaccines”.
According to Dr Amponsa-Achiano, the modern-day vaccination was an evolution of an old sacrification approach for cultural and healing purposes, which involved superficial incisions on the skin using tools such as broken glasses, knives, and blades through which concoctions were introduced into the body to treat diseases such as convulsions, measles, pneumonia, and many others, practised by many tribes in Ghana.
He said over three million lives of children from childhood killer diseases including poliomyelitis and measles have been saved annually over the years through vaccinations and said, “all that vaccination does is to prime your body to be ready to fight specific diseases and they are not harmful in any way”.
For those who continue to have fear and hesitancy about the vaccination, we only need to continue o step up the education and importance of the vaccination to ensure that in their own interest and that of their family and loved ones at least, they were fully protected with the vaccination and charge journalists to continue to educate the public through their writings and submissions on air.
So far, Ghana has received over four million doses of the various vaccines including the Astrazenecca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson from various facilities including the COVAX and bilateral relationship agreements all geared towards the target of vaccinating about 20 million people of the Ghanaian population by close of 2021.
As at October 25, Ghana has administered over 2.7 million doses of covid-19 vaccines, increasing from over 600,000 from the previous week and vaccination is ongoing in various centres and it’s anticipated that Ghana would accelerate it’s vaccination campaign to get closer to reaching the global goal of fully vaccinating 10 percent of every country’s population.