The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has charged nurses in the country to be worthy advocates of the COVID-19 vaccine set to be rolled out in the country. “Worthy advocates in the sense that you accept the vaccine and also preach the good virtues of the vaccine. Let us demystify all the propaganda about the vaccine,” he told the nurses at a seminar organised by the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) towards the eventual rollout of the vaccine in Ghana.
He urged the health professionals to help demystify any negative propaganda about the vaccine to give the population the confidence to patronise it. The seminar was on the theme “COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Ghana: The role of the nurse and midwife”. Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the services of the nurse in the fight against the virus was critical and most needed.
It was attended by representatives from the regions and the COVID-19 Ambassadors with live testimonies from Ghanaians residing in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).
Importance of vaccine
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said even though studies were still ongoing on the disease, what was certain was that the vaccine would reduce hospitalisation, prevent severe disease and death, and curb transmission, “as we head towards immunity”.
He said administering the vaccine would take a segmented approach, saying, “the first is to protect the health workers because you are at the forefront.”
“The second group will be all essential service providers and arms of governments to ensure that the state keeps running,” he explained, adding that the next would be the vulnerable and the general public. He, however, explained that the segmentation did not mean prioritisation, stressing that “we are not prioritising people against people; we are segmenting them in a way that addresses the challenge in a very fast way”.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the segmentation might not even happen if Ghana was able to receive the next consignment of the vaccine early enough, explaining that if that happened, the vaccine would be administered concurrently. He described the nurses as COVID-19 heroes and urged them to be major COVID-19 ambassadors, adding, “When the larger group of the health workers say they are for it; then I can relax,” and pledged the support of the GHS in the rollout.
The President of the GRNMA, Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, explained that nurses had been hit by the pandemic, especially the second wave, saying so far, 800 nurses had been infected, a good number having recovered, while others were still undergoing treatment and others in isolation.
Mrs Ofori-Ampofo explained that the country was in a new phase of COVID-19, and that was the vaccination rollout, insisting that “this is not the first time a vaccination is being rolled out, and we as nurses, we know it”. She called on the government to ensure that enough of the vaccine was available for at least 20 million people.
The Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Dr Kwame Amponsah Achiano, said if the vaccine was successfully deployed, “it will reduce COVID-19 ill-health and deaths, reduce disruption of social and economic activities, and improve the psychosocial well-being of Ghanaians”.
He said given the potential benefits of the vaccine, the country had been preparing for the vaccine since last year, adding that the GHS had developed a comprehensive plan to execute the vaccination.
A Ghanaian nurse living in the UK, who had already received the vaccine, explained that “I went for the vaccine because I do not want to get seriously ill or infect my family and my community”. She urged the nurses not to listen to what was going on in the social media space, adding that there was too much negative information on the vaccine.