Ghana has settled on eight weeks as the interval to administer the second shot of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of its immunisation strategy, officials have said.
This means all the 600,000 persons who will be immunised in the country from 2 March would have to wait for another two months before getting the second dose of the vaccine.
Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, programme manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed the move in an interview with Kojo Mensah on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Thursday 25 February.
“The manufacturer recommends that the second shot (AstraZeneca vaccine) should be given between four and 12 weeks, then there were further studies that suggested that the longer it is the better,” he said.
Dr Amponsa-Achiano added: “So there is a guideline from the strategic group of advisors called SAGE, who advise WHO on matters of immunisation and related technology, so they have come out with a guide that because further studies have suggested that the longer the better, we in Ghana have settled on eight weeks.”
According to him, the decision was taken to ensure a good interval to get a better response and also ensure people comply with the timeline for taking the vaccine.
Dr Amponsa-Achiano explained that they will deploy a temporary mobile clinic for the vaccination exercise instead of a house-to-house method adopted for some immunisation.
He further assured the public that the vaccines are safe.
Meanwhile, the government is in the process of establishing a call centre to receive complaints and answer questions on the immunisation exercise.
Arrival of vaccines
Ghana on Wednesday took delivery of 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India (Covishield).
This is the first consignment of vaccines acquired through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) which Ghana, among 92 countries, has signed unto.
A statement issued by the information ministry said the COVID-19 vaccination will be conducted in phases among segmented populations.
“The first segment of the population that will receive from the 600,000 doses will be health workers, adults 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary and their related staff, frontline security personnel, some religious leaders, essential workers, teachers and other personalities in Greater Accra Metro including Awutu Senya and Awutu Senya East in the Central Region. A similar segmented population in the Greater Kumasi Metro and Obuasi municipality will also be covered,” the statement signed by Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Information minister-designate said.
The vaccines will be deployed in health facilities and designated centres in these geographical regions from 2 March.
The statement said Ghana “remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and is making frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multilateral agencies.”
It added: “We urge you to do your part by ensuring that you get vaccinated when the vaccine gets to you. We acknowledge the hard work of the technical teams from the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information, the COVID-19 Task Force and all those who have assisted in getting us this far.”
The government expressed gratitude to its development partners for their tremendous financial and technical support.
“It is our hope that they will continue to support us in our sustained efforts in combating this virus and putting COVID-19 behind us”.