More than 852,000 Ghanaians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of May 7, 2021, data from the Ghana Health Service has showed. However, none of those who have so far been vaccinated includes children or pregnant women.
“They (Children and pregnant women) are still exempted.” An epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist and the Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Franklin Asiedu Bekoe told GhanaFact.
Which groups got vaccinated first?
Some specific groups were prioritised when Ghana rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination programme and they include frontline health workers, older adults, and people at high risk of death because of underlying conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
“Group 1 by way of segmentation, persons at most risk and these are principally frontline Healthcare Workers, frontline security personnel, Persons with known underlying medical Conditions, People 60 years and above and Frontline persons of the Executive, Legislature, and the Judiciary,” Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano said.
Vaccine roll-out challenges
According to Ghana’s President, the government’s target is to vaccinate the entire adult population – some 20 million people, by the end of the year.
This is a revision of the country’s initial plan to vaccinate 20 million residents, by the end of October 2021. This is not different from many other countries around the world that have had to change strategy due to some challenges.
“International vaccine politics and the unpredictability of the supply chain, as well as a third wave of infections in some countries in Europe and Asia, have meant that we have not been able to secure as many vaccines and vaccinated as many Ghanaians as we would have wanted at this staged,” President Nana Akufo-Addo stated during an address to the nation on May 16, 2021.
“With delays and shortages of vaccine supplies, African countries are slipping further behind the rest of the world in the vaccine roll-out, now accounting for only 1% of the vaccines administered worldwide down from 2% a few weeks ago” the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
Should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Under the COVAX plan, the initial doses of vaccines sent to countries are intended for health workers and people at high risk of severe illness from the virus, such as the elderly or those with underlying conditions, and are unlikely to be given to children.
These populations have been prioritized to help reduce morbidity from COVID-19 and to help protect health systems that serve everyone.
“It is important, however, to make sure that your child is continuing to receive routine childhood vaccinations.” United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said.
Meanwhile, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
Should pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Pregnant women are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 compared to women of child-bearing age who are not pregnant, and COVID-19 has been associated with an increased risk of preterm birth.
WHO recommends not to use COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy, unless the benefit of vaccinating a pregnant woman outweighs the potential vaccine risks, such as in health workers at high risk of exposure and pregnant women with comorbidities placing them in a high-risk group for severe COVID-19.
By Gifty Tracy Aminu