Dr. Aboagye Dacosta, Director of Health Promotions at the Ghana Health Service has disclosed that, the Service has resolved to ensure Ghanaians accept the COVID-19 vaccines.
According to him, his office has not failed in the vaccines gaining acceptance among Ghanaians who are sceptical about the jab.
His comments follow a research by the University of Southampton on vaccine acceptance in Ghana.
This research comes as government prepares to inoculate more Ghanaians following the arrival of some 350,000 AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.
“When we brought the vaccines in, we had to put in place strategies to make sure that Ghanaians [take] the vaccines and we saw from the first phase. Currently we’ve vaccinated about close to a million.
“So, I think it’s not true that my office has failed. Obviously, hesitancy is a problem across the world and we are trying so hard to make sure that we build trust for Ghanaians to accept the vaccines. It’s the reason why some of our strategies was actually that the President and leaders of this country should actually be the first to receive the vaccines. They were all engaged to increase acceptance of the vaccines and that is what actually worked for us”.
Perceptions of Ghanaians who don’t believe in vaccines
According to the research, conducted by the University of Southampton on vaccine, it revealed that 43.4% of Ghanaians were hesitant to take the vaccines. This is because, they believe the serum is dangerous and could affect their health.
Commenting on this, Dr. Dacosta noted that the method used by his outfit has “worked effectively”. This, according to him, is the reason why uptake was very high when “we started the first phase”.
“If you look at the research, it says that 43% say that they don’t believe. It’s just a belief, so all we have to do is to continuously educate them to obviously change their beliefs or change their perception”.
Educating Ghanaians on vaccines
Dr. Dacosta believes that the high number of people who have taken the vaccine readily discounts the research by Southampton. He further revealed that the GHS takes advantage of every opportunity to educate the public on COVID protocols.
“If you look at it, the research says that 82. 8 percent are willing to take the vaccines. So, it means that the level of uptake could even go higher. So, we are looking at hesitancy of about 9.6 percent. It means that, if you look at the beginning… hesitancy was around 63 percent compared to the current state which is about 82 percent… You can see that a lot of work has gone in”.
He further revealed that his office has been relentless in ensuring Ghanaians are enlightened on the vaccines. This, he revealed, is telling in community engagement results garnered from the first phase of vaccination.
“We have put in a lot of effort. Maybe the community engagement has helped us a lot in coming this far. Now, we are planning for the next phase and I can assure you that we’ll do everything possible for Ghanaians to accept the vaccines”.