Some fisher folks in communities along the coastal stretch of the Central Region have identified injection phobia (trypanophobia) as a key factor affecting COVID-19 vaccine uptake in their communities.
They said: “Everyone has something to be afraid of, but one common phobia of many fishermen in the Central Region is injection taking”.
Various vaccination exercises have elicited serious reactions among many fishers with severe panic attacks, dizziness, insomnia, elevated heartbeat among others.
The fishermen expressed these concerns at a focused group discussion on “knowledge, attitude and practices towards COVID-19 uptake” at Saltpond in the Mfantseman Municipality on Tuesday.
It was put together by the Mfantseman Municipal office of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), to solicit the views of key stakeholders on COVID-19, jab uptake, and encourage people to go for the injection.
The participants were taken through basic information on COVID-19, history, benefits of vaccination, and currently approved vaccines for COVID-19 treatment in Ghana and COVID-19 vaccination myths.
Underscoring the essence of the COVID-19 jab, Nana Egya Afful, Chief Fishermen for Kormantse No2, identified anxiety and fear borne out of vaccine reactions of persons who have taken the jab, as hampering vaccination among many fishers.
Others are the misinformation and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine underpinned by religious, social, and racial beliefs.
Madam Agnes Moore, Vice President of Mankessim Market Traders Association said many fishers refused to buy from traders who wore nose masks claiming such traders rather had COVID-19.
The fishers, she said often berate them saying, “remove the mask, there is no COVID-19 here, because it cannot stand the salinity of the sea water”.
Mr Isaac Kwame Quansah, Assemblyman for Upper-Kormantse Electoral Area described the misconceptions and miscommunications as ‘unfortunate’.
He advocated for a collective sustained sensitisation in all fishing communities by relevant state agencies in collaboration with traditional and religious leaders and assembly members.
Ms Justina Abban, a Nurse with the Ghana Health Service reassured of their readiness to intensify campaigns in all coastal communities to change the narrative about COVID-19 and the jabs.
She urged members of the public to disregard negative conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines.
In her remarks, Madam Judith Adomako-Ofosua, the Mfantseman Municipal Director of NCCE, said it was necessary to sensitize the public on the need to get vaccinated, and clear any myths about the vaccine in the media, especially on the various social media platforms.
She advised the public to avoid overdependence on social media for information about the COVID-19 vaccines as some of such platforms were saturated with false information.
Madam Adomako- Fosua assured of the Commission’s mandate to sensitize members of the public on the COVID-19 vaccine, and to demystify the misconceptions and negative theories about the vaccine among some members of the public.
Even though COVID-19 could affect anyone, women and children were the most vulnerable and urged them to be the first to go for the vaccine.