The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched a sub-national yellow-fever preventive mass vaccination campaign starting from November 12-18 in 81 districts across 14 regions in Ghana.
It’s estimated that over five million people from the age of 10-60 to years would be vaccinated during the exercise in the targeted 81 districts.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, Eastern Regional Director of Health, said about 700,000 health workers and volunteers had been trained to conduct the exercise under strict COVID-19 protocols at designated places such as mosques, market areas, Churches, and Schools.
He explained that in ensuring strict COVID-19 protocols, the vaccination teams would not move from house to house as was done with the polio vaccination, but rather would be stationed at the designated centres or any health facility.
He indicated that a risk assessment undertook in 2010, showed that all districts in Ghana were at risk of yellow-fever outbreak hence the vaccination campaign in 2012 and 2018 in some districts, adding that the vaccination was once in a lifetime and admonished the public to keep their vaccination cards well.
Dr Ofosu explained that the exclusion of pregnant women from the vaccination exercise did not mean that the vaccines were not safe, but it was a precautionary measure to protect the baby in the womb from any adverse reaction.
Dr Bless Batongoli, World Health Organization (WHO) Yellow-fever coordinator for Africa, said yellow fever outbreak was emerging in Africa and it had the potential of becoming a public health emergency if nothing was done particularly in the face of COVID-19.
He said out of the 47 yellow-fever endemic countries in the world, 34 were in Africa including Ghana, adding that no country could tackle it alone and assured of WHO and other allied organizations,s support of combined effort for global health security.
According to him, Ghana had been recognized as having the highest yellow fever vaccination rate of 92 per cent in the 2018 campaign, however, there were disparities in the district rates as some achieved less than 80 per cent and called for the need to cover all the targeted districts fully in the upcoming campaign.
Mr Isaac Kwadwo Buabeng, Nsawam-Adoagyiri Municipal Chief Executive, who represented the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Eric Kwakye-Dafuor, took the first vaccination at a demonstration to launch the weeklong campaign.