High turnout in communities for yellow fever vaccine

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Mr Pathak (standing, wearing blue shirt) observing a child being vaccinated at Gbampe
Mr Pathak (standing, wearing blue shirt) observing a child being vaccinated at Gbampe

Hundreds of people turned out in various communities to take the yellow fever jabs to protect them against the disease.

A visit to some of the vaccination centres in the Bole District of the Savannah Region showed winding queues of both old and young people waiting for their turn to be vaccinated against the disease.

As at 11 hours GMT on Sunday, 70 people at Jentige community were vaccinated, 154 people were vaccinated as at 2:20pm at Gbampe community, and 50 people were vaccinated within three hours at Deniyire.

At Mankuma, and Mahamaduyiri, which are small communities, a total of 54 people and 45 people were vaccinated respectively, and 30 others were also vaccinated at Kakiasi.

The yellow fever vaccination campaign began on Saturday, February 26 across 28 districts in nine regions of the country where suspected cases of the disease have been confirmed.

As part of the five day-long campaign, which ends on March 02, persons aged nine months old to 60 years old (with the exception of pregnant women) are being injected with the yellow fever vaccine to keep them safe from the disease.

The regions include Savannah, Ashanti, Greater Accra, Oti, Northern, Upper West, Bono, and Bono East.

This is the second phase of the vaccination campaign after the first phase was held in December, 2021 targeting about four regions, including the Savannah where the first case was recorded in October, 2021.

The campaign is led by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from partners including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

After the first phase of the vaccination campaign, it was realised that pockets of the disease still existed, and some new communities also started recording cases hence the second phase of the vaccination campaign.

Madam Afia Gbabere, a 35-year-old mother, who received her jab at Jentige, told the Ghana News Agency that she felt fine after taking the vaccine.

She said she was convinced that the vaccine would protect her pledging to mobilise other people in the community to take the vaccine.

Madam Sineyoro Gyesiri, a mother, who took the vaccine alongside two of her sister’s children at Gbampe, also spoke highly of the vaccine expressing need for all those yet to take it, to do so to protect them in the community.

Hajia Fuseina Sulemana, Bole District Director of Health, was impressed about the turn-out saying it showed that all the targeted population would be covered during the campaign period.

Hajia Sulemana said so far the District Health Directorate had not received any reports of side effects following the vaccination, urging all those, who were vaccinated, to mobilise their households to take the vaccine.

She said, “The vaccines are safe. We are not the first people taking the vaccine. We have never heard any complaint of side effects. Come out and take it. Nobody will suffer any paralysis after taking it.”

Mr Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Tamale, said the number of people very eager to take the vaccine meant that the social mobilisation campaign went well.

He observed that “The exercise is going on well and we are confident of a positive outcome after the exercise.”

He praised the vaccination teams, saying they were well-equipped, knew their jobs well, and dedicated to their work.

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and the infection can cause serious illness and death.

Symptoms include fever, yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, bleeding (from the nose, ear, mouth and other parts of the body), chills, general body aches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness, shock and failure of many organs.

In October, 2021 the Savannah Region reported suspected cases of yellow fever, which were later confirmed positive by the National Public Health Reference Laboratory and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Samples sent to Institut Pasteur Dakar (IPD) were also confirmed positive for yellow fever.

The outbreak is now widespread, with 13 out of 16 regions of the country, including Savannah, Upper West, Bono and Bono East confirming cases and over 40 people dying from the disease.

As at February 22, 2021 the total suspected cases of the disease stood at 852, confirmed cases by immunoglobulin stood at 137, and confirmed cases by PCR from IPD (Dakar) stood at 70.

UNICEF, a partner in the vaccination campaign, has deployed four teams to the Savannah, Upper West,  Bono and Bono East Regions to monitor the exercise.

The GNA understands that UNICEF is working with the GHS’ Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) providing technical assistance and financial support to help build the capacity of health staff, provide the needed vaccines and logistics and also supporting the EPI in community mobilisation and sensitisation efforts.

Additionally, UNICEF is providing technical assistance during the vaccination campaign and working with the GHS to strengthen cold chain systems in diverse ways, including the supply of ultra low temperature fridges to the GHS.

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