Persons who took the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccines when the first phase of the vaccination exercise started in March this year will today (Wednesday, May 19, 2021) go to the same centres for a second jab to complete the process.
The second jabs have been delayed for about a month because vaccines acquisition delayed.
The uncertainty in obtaining vaccines, characterised by such delays, represents one of Ghanaâ€™s biggest challenges to the ambitious plan to vaccine 20 million Ghanaians by the end of this year.
When President Nana Akufo-Addo delivered his 25th national address on steps being taken by the government to hold the spread of the virus in Ghana, he confessed that international vaccine politics, the unpredictability of the supply chain, and the third wave of infections in parts of Europe and Asia have worked against Ghanaâ€™s vaccination plans.
But the President was surprisingly optimistic when he added shortly after outlining these challenges that, â€œin spite of these obstacles, the target is to vaccinate some twenty million Ghanaians, i.e., the entire adult population of Ghana, by the end of the year.â€
The Presidentâ€™s optimism to complete the vaccination of 20 million Ghanaians to achieve herd immunity by the close of the year is strange.
First, not many people would be completely vaccinated by the time the administration of this second jab completes on May 26, 2021. Less than 400,000 people would be completely vaccinated.
In a nutshell, the uncertainty that has characterised obtaining vaccines to complete the process for less than 400,000 people between March and May deflates any optimism to successfully vaccinate some 19.6 million persons between June and December this year.
Ghana is also not likely to complete the vaccination of 20 million people by the close of the year because while the country has been assured 12.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines under the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), timelines are not firmly established.
Also, these 12.4 million doses â€“ even if they arrive tomorrow â€“ will achieve complete vaccination for only 6.2 million adult Ghanaians. There will still be over 13 million Ghanaians to be vaccinated by end of this year.
A robust plan on how the remaining vaccines would be acquired is yet to be made public.
Furthermore, Ghana is likely to fall on other types of vaccines apart from AstraZeneca, however, most of these other alternatives would need a reliable cold storage and distribution infrastructure that will minimise waste and deliver vaccines to hard-to-reach parts of the country with speed.
It is not certain that Ghana has such an infrastructure. It is a known fact that Ghanaâ€™s existing cold storage facilities lack the capacity to house vaccines like those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna because of the very cold temperatures required to store them.
So, while optimism about meeting the target of vaccinating 20 million adult Ghanaians is good, facing facts helps to think through challenges more accurately. Ghana can vaccinate 20 million Ghanaians, but it is not likely to be by end of this year.