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Friday, September 30, 2022

Opinion: Is Ghana ready for a third dose of COVID-19 Vaccine?

Since COVID-19 pulled a surprise on the world after rearing its ugly head in China, countries all over the world have reacted differently in their response to theglobalpandemic. Lock down, closure of borders and COVID-19 testing with vaccine productions as the world clamoured to protect lives.

COVID-19 vaccine is injected into the system to prepare the body’s natural defenses – the immune system to recognize and fight off the Sars-Cov2 virus that causes COVID-19. Scientists insist that vaccination does not only protect one’s self but also loved ones and the community at large.

Due to this, governments all over the world have given the green light for their citizens to get vaccinated with a particular type of vaccine or a combination of two types. In all of these however, two shots of vaccines are required to strengthen the immune system.

In recent times, however, we are learning that, the two shots aren’t enough to fully protect the immune system as some countries have started giving booster shot and third doses to their citizens.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the third dose or booster shot are intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series. This means that the third dose is to help protect people with weakened immune systems who did not have a strong enough response to the first two doses of one of the vaccines. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “people who have an eligible medical condition that causes a suppressed immune system can receive a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as soon as 28 days after the second dose.” 

The US, Canada and other developed countries like France, Germany and the UK have recommended and started giving the third dose to patients with weak immune system. The Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in Canada explained in a statement that the goal is providing an extra shot to people who “may have somewhat lower responses to their first vaccinations.”

Israel however has taken it a step further by making third doses of COVID-19 available to everyone aged 12 or older. It is in fact the first country to officially offer a third dose when it began its COVID booster campaign on August 1, rolling it out to all those above the age of 60 and then gradually dropped the eligibility age to everyone who is 12 years and above. So far, over 1.9 million Israelis have received their third dose. 

Ghana was the first country in the world to receive 600,000 vaccines through the COVAX facility in February this year. Over 470,000 people including health workers making up over 80% of the number received the first jab of the vaccine. On May 7, the country benefited from another 350,000 does redirected from DR Congo. 

So far, four vaccines have been approved for use in Ghana. These are Gamaleya Sputnik V, Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) Ad26.COV2.S, Oxford/Astrazeneca AZD1222 and Covishield (Oxford/Astrazeneca formulation). 

According to Statista, Ghana has administered approximately 1.27 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Statistically assuming that every person gets two doses, about 2.1% of the population would have been vaccinated. 

By September 24, the Ghana Health Service had commenced a mass deployment of Astrazeneca vaccines across all 16 rregions for persond 18 and above. In all, Ghana Health Service reports that 865,422 people have took the first dose whilst 405,971 people have taken both the first and the second dose. This is largely inadequate as the population of Ghana is more than 30 million people. These numbers give a clear indication that Ghana is no where near considering a third dose or a COVID booster as its main focus is getting more vaccines for her people to get the first and second jabs.

Until majority of Ghanaians are vaccinated, it will be an exercise in futility to think or expect a third COVID-19 vaccine. 

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

Edited by Zubaida Mabuno Ismail.

www.zamireports.com|Ghana.

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