Vaccination of some 20 million persons against COVID-19 is expected to begin from first week of March to curb the spread of the deadly pandemic.

Ghana’s programme manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), Dr Kwame Amponsa-Akyianu disclosed that the country has gone through all the required processes for the exercise to commence smoothly.

He made the announcement in Accra on Friday when the Ministry of Health together with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Information held a public engagement on Government’s COVID-19 vaccination Roll-out Plan.

Ghana has so far approved AstraZeneca vaccine, which is licensed to the Serum Institute of India and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Information Minister-designate, Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah and Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Health Minister-designate

Dr Amponsa-Akyianu said the vision of the country is to vaccinate the entire population of about 31 million but will begin with 20 million and vaccinate the remaining population in due course.

“Our vision as a country is to vaccinate the entire population. We are expecting a total of 350,000 COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the country by February 22 to pave way for the vaccination in the first week of March. The exercise will continue till October this year,” he added.

The EPI programme manager explained that Ghana’s vaccination exercise will be carried out in three phases in which frontline health workers, persons with underlying conditions, frontline security personnel, members of the legislature, executive, and judiciary will be among the first set of individuals to receive the vaccine.

The next group of persons to be vaccinated in the second phase, Dr Amponsa-Akyianu indicated, are workers of water and electricity companies, teachers, students, farmers, and all those involved in the country’s food value chain while all persons 18 years, as well as pregnant women, will have their vaccination done in phase three of the exercise.

He gave the assurance that Ghana has a comprehensive plan for the COVID-19 vaccination roll out and appealed to all to support government in the exercise.

No fears

Meanwhile, the Minister-designate for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has entreated Ghanaians to be ready for the coronavirus vaccination next month.

“We all need to be vaccinated in this country,” he said, saying Ghanaians should not be afraid to take the vaccine.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said it is untrue that the COVID-19 vaccine is developed to kill Africans.

He stressed that the vaccines would rather protect the public against the virus.

Mr Agyeman-Manu noted that vaccination is not new to the world and Ghana as the country has succeeded in eliminating a lot of diseases through the use of vaccines.

“This is for prevention so that you don’t get infected and even if you get infected the severity of the illness will not get out of hand”, he explained.

Mr. Agyemang-Manu said the Ministry of Health will deploy a total of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds vaccinations campaign.

On his part, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said it was time for Ghanaians to focus on how to prepare their body’s natural defence against the virus.

He said the available vaccines have proven to be effective and Ghana needs to break the coronavirus transmission chain through vaccination.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye noted that the nation recorded a decline in COVID- 19 active cases in the last two weeks due to an increase in the use of face masks among the public.

Safety measures assured

The Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Dr Delese A.A Darko, said the two vaccines were ordered through Emergency Use Authorization; a pathway used to ensure that a needed medical product is made available on time without compromising on its safety or efficacy.

“This is to assure the public that all that we need to do to ensure the vaccine is safe, has been done for these two vaccines”, she added.

Dr Delese said to further monitor the safety of the vaccine during the campaign, the FDA has put together a nationwide safety surveillance system to ensure that every person vaccinated is actively followed up for the detection and management of any adverse effect in all parts of the country.