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Monday, January 30, 2023

Opinion: COVID-19 vaccination – How over 60s navigate through vaccination queues

The Ghana Health Service on thirteenth August, 202 begun vaccinating some citizens after the country received some 177,600 doses Johnson and Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccines under an arrangement by African Union for fifty five member States. The West African nation is one of the earliest to benefit from agreed in March to procure 220 million doses for the continent, with the potential to order another 180 million. The vaccination was held in selected districts identified in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

In the Greater Accra region, the vaccination was held in;  Ablekuma Central, Accra Metro, Adentan, Ga south, Kpone Katamanso, Okaikoi North, and Tema Metro. In the Asanti region; Asokwa, Kumasi Metro, Oforikrom, Kwadaso. These areas were listed “hot spots”. The vaccination exercise witnessed mad turn-out as citizens begin to fully accept vaccinations and avail themselves to be vaccinated. In a release announcing the eligibility, the G.H.S said, “The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine is a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine and it for those who have never had any of the COVID-19 vaccines before, i.e., persons aged 18 and above who live in the designated districts, with the exception of pregnant women. Preference will be given to: Persons 60 years & above and Persons with underlying conditions.

With these clearly stated, management of health facilities were expected to initiate measures that would aid a smooth exercise with the elderly accorded some priority. There were overflowing numbers at two hospitals visited. Among the facilities visited were the Bethel Specialist Hospital and Tema Metropolitan Assembly hospitals. At the Tema Metropolis in the Greater Accra region, the elderly were mostly left unattended to. Some of them who shared their ordeal revealed they arrived at the premises as early as 07:00am, an hour ahead of the commencement of the exercise.

“I have been standing here since I arrived and nobody is telling me anything. I am sixty years and imagine if I have to join the queue and under this scorching sun,” madam Vida Asieduwa who was taking her jab at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly hospital hinted.

“I have been standing here for hours too, all the chairs have been occupied by the younger ones and the people (management of the facility) are not even making attempts to provide us with chairs. I thought we should be given priority,”? a woman supported with a walking stick lamented as she waited in despair at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly hospital.

The situation was however, more organized at the Bethel Specialized Hospital. Management and staff walked the elderly to a area under shade and vaccinated them separately.

At Teme Metro Hospital, the reporter had to assume the communication role by mining information to why the elderly were left unattended to and with no seats for them. In other instances, the reporter walked some elderly persons to the vaccination table for them to be vaccinated. Heavily affected were those with mobility challenges.

“We’re attending to people who came yesterday but could not be vaccinated, we will handle the elderly after those people,” the in charge of the vaccination who wouldn’t provide her identity insisted when questioned about the situation.

“In Ghana, from 3 January 2020 to 9:17am CEST, 6 September 2021, there have been 120,452 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,052 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 23 August 2021, a total of 1,271,393 vaccine doses have been administered. Globally, as of 9:17am CEST, 6 September 2021, there have been 220,383,954 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,561,446 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 1 September 2021, a total of 5,289,724,918 vaccine doses have been administered,” data from the World Health Organization COVID-19 dashboard reveals.

This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19 project.


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