With the Ghana Health Service set to begin the deployment of 600,000 AstraZeneca vaccine from tomorrow, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has confidently stated that the vaccine is safe, and accordingly called on Ghanaians to ignore conspiracy theories around it.
“Taking the vaccine will not alter your DNA, it will not embed a tracking device in your body, neither will it cause infertility in women or in men. As your President, I want to assure you that the vaccine is safe,” the President said yesterday when he addressed the nation on Ghana’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority, considered one of the best in the world, has certified the safe use of the vaccine.
“It would not do so if it had any reservations about the safety of the vaccine, and I have gone on record as saying that no vaccine will be deployed in the country for use without the express certification of the FDA,” he said.
Arrive on time
President Akufo-Addo said even though he had disclosed in his last update that Ghana was supposed to receive the first vaccine by March… “by dint of hard work and sheer determination, Government was able to secure the first batch of vaccine doses in February, a month ahead of schedule.”
He said this makes Ghana the first country in the world to be recipients of vaccines from the COVAX Facility.
He commended members of the Covid-19 Taskforce, which he chairs, as well as officials of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service for the efforts.
“The vaccine deployment plan we submitted to WHO, which unlocked this consignment, was well-received. They have done a yeoman’s job, and our nation is indebted to them. We are grateful, also, naturally, to the contributors and managers of the COVAX Facility.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of two vaccines that have, so far, been approved and declared as safe-for-use by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). With the process of certification currently ongoing for the other vaccines, the range of vaccines available to us will increase. This will facilitate our ability to reach our target of vaccinating twenty million Ghanaians by the end of this year,” he said.
The President is set to take the first vaccine publicly, together with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and the First and Second Ladies, Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Samira Bawumia, respectively, at two health centres in Accra today.
This will be followed by key public officials such as the Speaker and Members of Parliament, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, Chairperson and Members of the Council of State, the Chief of Staff and senior officials at the Office of the President, and prominent personalities like some Eminent Clergy, the National Chief Imam, the Asantehene, the Ga Mantse, and some media practitioners tomorrow.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the population has been segmented into four groups for the purpose of the vaccination.
Group one, he indicated, comprises persons most at risk and frontline State officials, including healthcare workers, frontline security personnel, persons with underlying medical conditions, persons sixty years and above, and frontline members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
Group two is made up of other essential service providers and the rest of the security agencies. “It includes water and electricity supply services, teachers and students, supply and distribution of fuels, farmers and food value chain, telecommunications services, air traffic and civil aviation control services, meteorological services, air transport services, waste management services, media, public and private commercial transport services, the Police Service, Armed Forces, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, National Fire Service, CEPS Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, and other members of the Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Group three will be made up of the rest of the general public except for pregnant women.
The final group, Group four, the President said, will include pregnant mothers and persons under the age of eighteen and they will be vaccinated when an appropriate vaccine, hopefully, is found, or when enough safety data on the present vaccines is available.
President Akufo-Addo said special arrangements would be made for persons with disabilities who fall within these groups.
Don’t let guard down
President Akufo-Addo was quick to add that despite the roll out of the vaccination campaign, Ghanaians should not let their guard down but still observe the safety protocols.
“Let us continue to wash our hands under running water, maintain social distancing, refrain from shaking hands and hugging, and, most importantly, wear our masks. We must remember that the virus continues to jeopardise our lives and livelihoods,” he said.
He further encouraged faith-based groups, civil society, media and all Ghanaians to support the public education campaign associated with the vaccination exercise.
“We need all hands-on deck to make this a success,” he urged.