Vaccine hesitancy in Ghana remains a stumbling block to the country’s quest to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
It is against this backdrop that Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), in partnership with the National Association of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+) Ghana, Young Health Advocates Ghana (YHAG), and the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS), with technical support from the Ghana Health Service are embarking on a project to strengthen community engagement in response to COVID-19 hesitancy reduction in Ghana.
This project is under the auspices of the Partnership for Accelerated COVID-19 Testing (PACT) 2.0 project, supported by UNAIDS and funded by the Government of Germany.
The two-day Vaccine Champions Training kicked off in Accra and Kumasi, as these cities have recorded the highest cases of COVID-19 since cases were recorded in 2020.
The workshop saw 40 Vaccine Champions receive training on COVID-19 public sensitization, myths and misconceptions, developing effective communication strategies, and working with data collection tools, among other insightful topics.
Delivering the opening remarks at the training in Accra, Executive Director of HFFG, Cecilia Senoo, described the current state of vaccine hesitancy as worrying, hence the urgency of the project.
Mrs. Senoo further commended the Vaccine Champions for availing themselves to embark on a “worthy cause” and encouraged the Vaccine Champions to remain devoted to their mandate.
Additionally, UNAIDS Ghana Youth Programmes Officer, Eric Sinayobye, informed participants that while the first version of the PACT project was aimed at contact tracing, the second version is intended to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
According to Mr. Sinayobye, “UNAIDS together with partners believe that fighting vaccine misinformation is integral to increasing vaccine uptake”.
During the training, facilitators from the Ghana Health Service (GHS), GRCS, and HFFG educated the Vaccine Champions on various methods of dispelling fear generated by erroneous beliefs about COVID-19 vaccines.
Eunice Joan Teah Dzagli, Health Promotion Division of the GHS underscored that “vaccines do not kill but if you are not vaccinated, you can be killed.”
Also, the National Primary Health Care Officer, Ghana Red Cross Society, Ernest Nyame Annan, highlighted the integral role Vaccine Champions-who are volunteers-play in dispelling fear of COVID-19 vaccines. The Health Promotion Officer, GHS in Kumasi, Felix Annan, emphatically stressed that,” COVID-19 vaccines to not contain microchips. The vaccines are safe.”
At the end of the training, President of NAP+, Elsie Ayeh, charged the vaccine champions to listen carefully to the concerns of the populace, demystify misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, and ultimately increase vaccine uptake at health facilities and communities.