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Media engagement on vaccines uptake in Ghana held in Accra


By: Michael Kofi Kenetey and Gloria Edinam Atiase.

Statistics from the Ghana Health Service, GHS, indicate that a little over 27 point nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the country as at November 2023. Out of the number, Astra Zeneca was the most administered vaccine with the figure of a little over 10 point five million doses followed by Janssen of a little over eight point four million doses.

11,615,116 Ghanaians were fully vaccinated while 14,699,519 persons received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Senior Medical Officer of Public Health at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Dr. Emmanuel Addipa-Adapoe who gave the statistics during a two-day training workshop in Accra for media practitioners across the country on vaccines uptake in Ghana, said over 6.3 million Ghanaians received a booster dose during the same period.

The workshop was organized by the Africa Media and Malaria Research Network, AMMREN, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, WHO, and the Ghana Health Service, GHS. It aimed at equipping the media practitioners with the knowledge to increase awareness on vaccine uptake in Ghana.

Dr. Addipa-Adapoe mentioned fear, perception, religious and spiritual beliefs, trust in healthcare providers and trust in vaccine administration as some reasons for vaccine refusal in the country. He urged the media to use their various platforms to educate the public on vaccines uptake in order to allay fear, anxiety, misinformation, conspiracy theories and lack of trust in relation to vaccine uptake in the country.

Dr. Addipa-Adapoe recommended that health campaigns on vaccine uptake should address the concerns of fear, mistrust and safety issues to promote vaccine acceptance. He added that religious institutions and their leadership should be actively engaged in public health education campaigns to demystify and promote trust and confidence. He also suggested that health education approaches are made region-specific to address peculiar regional concerns.

A Health Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Office in Ghana, Dr. Felix Osei-Sarpong, giving a presentation on vaccine financing, noted that the global vaccine financing landscape is a collaborative effort of stakeholders including governments, donors, private sector, philanthropists and out-of-pockets payments. He indicated that the risk of inadequate funding of vaccines can lead to vaccine stock out, increased disease outbreaks, economic losses due to illness and loss of productivity.

Dr. Osei-Sarpong urged the media to hold decision-makers accountable on vaccine financing and inform the public on the essence of vaccine uptake. The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Dr. Charity Binka, said increasing vaccine uptake in the country is not just a health priority but a vital step towards safeguarding the wellbeing and future prosperity of the country.

She noted that her outfit recognizes the media as key stakeholders in advocacy and dissemination of timely, reliable, and accurate information, hence, the need to equip them with the necessary information.

Dr. Binka expressed the hope that the workshop will build the capacity of the media practitioners to accurately package, disseminate and address key issues on vaccine uptake in the country. The National Professional Officer in charge of Surveillance at the WHO Office in Ghana, Dr. Michael Agyabeng, said vaccines are the most effective way of disease prevention, however, vaccinations are always confronted with mistrust and misinformation.

It is therefore incumbent on the media to educate the public on the relevance of vaccination. Dr. Agyabeng noted that the WHO will continue to support government to promote universal health in the country. The two-day training workshop brought together about 50 media practitioners across the country.

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