Wa, Sept. 6, GNA – Some health workers in the Upper West Region awaiting their second shot of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have expressed low confidence in the efficacy of the vaccine due to the delay in receiving it.
On August 30, 2021, health authorities in the region commenced administration of the second jab after a delay of about two extra months due to the challenges the government faced in the supply of the vaccine.
This according to some of the health workers is making them doubt if the vaccine would still be protective of them as it would have been if they had taken it within the eight to 12 weeks recommended period.
Some of the health workers, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after receiving their second jab, said they were only taking it for the sake of it as they doubt it would work.
Madam Patience Aduna, a nurse, noted that because of the delay now she believes that the chain had been broken because vaccines deal with chains.
“Now, we are taking the second jab just for the sake of it, because we don’t know whether it can still complement the first one”, she said.
Mr Mumuni Yakubu, a retired health worker said they know vaccines have timelines within which they are able to work well, noting that, if the timeline for a particular vaccine elapses for a long period, the chain would break and the support the second dose will have to give to the first one, will be compromised.
“So I’m just doing it for doing sake as we are in doubt whether it will work”, he said.
Mr Ambrose Kundisab, a Laboratory Technician says it is about five months now since they took the first shot of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We were not even sure of receiving the second shot because – so for me, it is a probability because I don’t know if it will work the way it is suppose to work”, he emphasized.
Ms Patience Weltaa, a nurse who also expressed doubt noted that, “I was thinking it will not be potent again because they gave us a time period, which exceeded by two months – so I think the first one might have expired by now”.
“I decided to take the second jab because we are all health personnel, and if it is not potent I don’t think they will give it out “, she said.
Mr Sampson Abu, the Wa Municipal Hospital Administrator, said he took the second jab just to satisfy the requirement for all to be vaccinated, but for the efficacy of it, he thinks the chain is broken.
“So we are doing it for the sake of it – so if it works fine for us and if it doesn’t, we can’t be blamed for not taking it”, he said.
COVID-19 situation in Upper West
Meanwhile, the Upper West Region currently has a total number of 607 confirmed cases, 73 active cases, and 20 deaths with Wa and Nandom Municipalities contributing more to the total number of cases.
Allaying of fears
Dr Richard Wodah-Seme, the Acting Upper West Regional Director of Public Health, encouraged the public not to entertain fears, adding that, the time limit within which the second dose should have been taken they were not out of the limit yet.
“Even though we had promised and anticipated that it should be done within 12 weeks, if it goes beyond the 12 weeks, it still does not cause any concern”, he said.
“Because initially, in our communication, we were saying between eight to 12 weeks and now this is coming beyond that and of course, legitimately people should raise concerns”, he added.
“But we want to allay their fears that it will still work, it will still confer the same immunity. Again, there’s still a lot more we’re learning about this vaccine and as and when new evidence emerges, we will be able to communicate same but for now, we will encourage everybody who has taken the first dose to try and go for the second dose”,
“These are legitimate fears they are raising, but once we keep on explaining to them, they will understand”, Dr Wodah-seme noted.
Meanwhile, Dr. Damien Punguyire, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Service, on September 1, 2021, received his second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and encouraged other people awaiting the jab to also go for same.
“I took my second shot of the AstraZeneca brand of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier today, 1st September, 2021”, he said.
Dr Punguyire who said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Wa, noted that “It feels good to note that l am fully vaccinated and protected against the virus”.
The Regional Director of Health said that notwithstanding, he was not taking any chances at all as far as the virus was concern.
“I will continue to mask up, sanitize my hands, ensure social distance and limit being in crowded and enclosed areas until new evidence proves that it is safe to return pre-pandemic social environment”, he emphasized.
Dr Punguyire also encouraged all to go for the vaccine when the opportunity comes and in addition, observe all the proven public health and social measures, adding, “Vaccines Safe Lives'!!!”.
Second jab exercise
The administration of the second jab became possible after the arrival of the 249,600 doses of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine under the auspices of the COVAX facility by the government of the United Kingdom (UK).
Vaccines received by the region
Dr Wodah-Seme told the GNA that the region received a total of 8,400 of the AstraZeneca double schedule vaccine and had commenced its administration to those who qualify for the second dose in the region.
He added that the region equally received a total of 700 of the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine and was presently administering it to those that had not been vaccinated yet.
Meanwhile, the region initially received a total of 10,000 of the AstraZeneca vaccines and was able to vaccinate a total of 9,783 people with 217 representing 2.2 per cent being wasted.
According to the data, Wa Municipal received a total of 2,170 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has since vaccinated a total number of 2,077 people including health workers, some personnel of the security services, and the media.
A total of 30 doses are still available and are expected to be used to vaccinate members of the health committee.
A total of 63 doses representing 2.9 percent were also wasted.
Explaining what is meant by wasted, Dr Punguyire said that, “a vial meant for 10 people but could not be exhausted. The remaining doses become wasted after six hours”.
“This usually happens in the evenings where sometimes, few people are left to be vaccinated and you are compelled to open another vial because you cannot tell them to go and come the next day – in this case, the number of doses left cannot be kept till the next day , hence, are wasted”, he said.