Dr. Richard Wodah-Seme, the Deputy Director of Public Health, Upper West Region, has urged the public to go in for the COVID-19 vaccines to help achieve head immunity against the virus.
He said the vaccine was safe, efficient, and effective to minimise the impact of the virus.
Dr. Wodah-Seme was speaking at a media engagement in Wa on the implementation of the Girls Iron Folate Tablet Supplement (GIFTS) programme in the Upper West Region.
“We want to assure you that the vaccine is safe, it is effective, it is efficient, so all fears that people are entertaining, they should be rest assured that it is safe, and it is readily available,” he explained.
He said about 710,000 doses of the vaccines had so far been administered with more than half of the population of the region receiving at least one dose, with a target of at least 70 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
He said the Ghana Health Service introduced the national COVID-19 vaccinations campaign to get at least 20 million Ghanaians vaccinated against the virus, but that the campaign was not yielding the needed results, especially in the Upper West Region.
The Deputy Director attributed that to the myths and misconceptions the people held about the vaccines, social mobilisation challenge and lack of interest among the people in taking the vaccine.
He, however, observed that it was in the collective interest of everyone to get vaccinated to avoid the country getting to a stage, where there would be the need for the imposition of restrictions.
Dr. Wodah-Seme said the region had so far recorded over 900 cases of COVID-19 with 44 deaths representing a 7.8 per cent fatality rate, which he described as alarming.
He said though there was currently no active COVID-19 case in the region “We are not out of danger yet” as there were increasing cases of the virus at the national level with over 300 active cases recorded within the last three weeks, which he said had been worrying.
He indicated that the GHS had scheduled the third and fourth COVID-19 campaigns for June 08 to 12, and June 24 to 28 respectively.
He said through the support of Global Communities, the Regional Health Directorate was also revamping the vaccination campaign including house-to-house vaccination campaigns.
Talking about the GIFTS programme, Mr Michael Kamal Seidu, the Upper West Regional Coordinator for the programme, said they were engaging traditional authorities, opinion leaders, non-governmental organisations and individuals to support the sensitisation drive to help in its uptake.
He explained that the implementation of the programme was also faced with challenges including uninformed social media commentary and political twists, poor social mobilization and lack of potable water in some schools for taking the supplement in schools.
He said the GHS was also implementing the Nutrition Friendly School Initiative (NFSI), a school-based health and nutrition programme to help address the issue of malnutrition in schools.
Mr Seidu said the initiative was being implemented in the Wa Municipality, Wa East, Nadowli-Kaleo, Jirapa, Lawra and Lambussie Districts under the Focusing Resources on Effective School Health initiative funded by the WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank.