The government has assured Ghanaians, who are concerned that they might not be able to receive their second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine when it is due, that it is working assiduously to procure the next batch of vaccines.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Sunday, April 18, 2021, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye explained that despite initial assertions that persons would have to receive their second jabs at least eight weeks after the first, it is actually possible to get your second dose at least four weeks after the initial deadline has passed.
He added that that the delay in the procurement of additional COVID-19 vaccines has been occasioned by the global scramble for the limited global supply.
That notwithstanding, the government is working with its overseas partners to procure additional vaccines by May this year, the Head of the GHS insisted.
“We are assuring people that if do not get [the second dose] by the eighth week [it doesn’t mean] there’s something wrong. There is still a four-week window beyond to get it,” he added.
He stated that the current priority of the GHS is to ensure that all Ghanaians receive their first jab of the vaccine.
“As a Service, we are more concerned about having more people with the first dose. There are also bilateral arrangements that will bring in other COVAX vaccines, including Johnson and Johnson, which we are expecting in the third quarter of the year.”
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye also announced a revision in the GHS’ initial vaccination policy for those who have taken the first dose from 8 weeks to 12 weeks period.
This he said is a result of the efficacy of the first dose, explaining that the first dose has about 76% protection for about 90 days, which coincides with the revised 12 weeks.
“WHO has done a lot of studies and it shows that if you do it before the four weeks or before two weeks, there is no benefit; but between two, four, eight and twelve weeks is the best time to do it and even though you would have lost some percentage of the antibodies, it’s still enough to protect you.
“The efficacy of one dose is about 76 per cent protection for just about 90 days which coincides with the 12 weeks. Subsequently, they have not done the next stage. A lot of work is being done now, and I’m sure when it’s concluded we’ll see how long the first dose really protects you before you become vulnerable,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a total of 755,686 people have received their first jabs of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, with the Greater Accra Region having the highest number of innoculated persons.