The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed that large quantities of vaccines dispatched to the Volta Region expired due to vaccination hesitancy among the people.
The country has so far vaccinated 7.5 million people. As part of efforts to get more Ghanaians to vaccinate against COVID-19, the government has introduced new measures, including a mandatory vaccination drive at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
Ghana’s vaccination drive had earlier experienced a few setbacks due to shortage of vaccines.
Speaking at a leadership dialogue series organised by the Centre for Social Justice, Manager of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation at the GHS, Dr Kwame Amponsah Achiano, said the refusal of the people in the Volta Region to get vaccinated is thwarting the country’s effort to limit the spread of the pandemic.
“We had a lot of vaccines in the Volta Region. Unfortunately, because of hesitancy, we had a lot of them expiring and so we would be happy if senior people like you will support the Volta Region in overcoming this,” he said.
“We made a lot of vaccines available and I believe that when you do the background checks, you’d realise that quite a number of our vaccines expired in the Volta Region of Ghana,” he said.
He also admitted for the first time that the GHS is not likely to meet the 15 million target set since it’s barely two weeks for the year to end.
Speaking at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2021, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the government was hopeful it will achieve its target of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of the year.
But Dr Achiano emphasised that “the focus of the programme is to get people, who are yet to be vaccinated, vaccinated. We thought we could do about 15 million before the end of the year but if you look at the trajectory, it may not be likely that we would achieve that.
“We are putting together the plan and eventually it has to go to the COVID-19 taskforce for ratification before we do that; so it is in the plan.”
Mandatory vaccination at KIA
The GHS has made it compulsory for immigrants who have not been inoculated to be vaccinated upon arrival at the KIA.
It has also directed that all persons 18 years and above arriving in Ghana from December 12 must provide proof of full vaccination.
According to a press release signed by GHS Director-General, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, out of the 34 Omicron cases detected at the airport, 75% of them were by people not vaccinated.
“Over the last two weeks, cases from the airport account for about 60% of the total cases recorded in the country,” he added.
While some groups have kicked against the initiative, others believe it is a step in the right direction as the country fights to avert a possible spread of the virus during the festive season.