Ghanaian researchers are advocating a combined preventive vaccination programme with enhanced public education campaigns to enhance the rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

They believe this is crucial in attaining the desired herd immunity threshold in Ghana.

The impact of COVID-19 vaccination programmes on disease transmission, morbidity and mortality depend heavily on the population’s willingness to accept the vaccine and for a critical mass to be vaccinated within a relatively short period of time.

The research explored vaccine hesitancy attitudes amongst 2345 adults in Ghana via an online survey and the likelihood of participation or non-participation in the government’s effort to get citizens vaccinated.

The survey centred on differences in intentions regarding taking COVID-19 vaccination as well as analysis of the factors associated with willingness to receive a vaccine.

The results showed that if made generally available, about half (51%) of mostly urban adult Ghanaians over the age of 15 are likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

While 28% were undecided, a fifth (21%) of the respondents were unlikely to take the vaccine primarily because of their uncertainty around the clinical safety of the vaccine and what they saw as a lack of sufficient information on any side effects.

Additionally, socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, and primary sources of information were seen to influence differences in vaccine hesitancy

One of the researchers, Dr. John Amuasi of the School of Public health, KNUST advises that “the only way to attain the desired herd immunity threshold in Ghana of about 63% to 70%, would involve combining the preventive vaccination programmes with an enhanced and coordinated aggressive public education campaign.”

He adds: “the campaign should focus on promoting the individual and collective benefit of vaccinations, especially among younger populations, with an additional emphasis on men.