Good evening, and thank you for welcoming me into your homes once again.
You are doing so on one of the sacred days of our nation, 28th February, when the 1948 Christiansborg Crossroads shooting occurred seventy-three (73) years ago, which led to the martyrdom of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey Lamptey, martyrdoms that ignited the nationalist movement, and led us to the freedom we enjoy today.
Let us observe a moment’s silence in honour of their memory, and the memory of all the faithful departed patriots who helped create our nation. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
Fellow Ghanaians, since I last spoke to you, a month ago, a significant development in our fight against COVID-19 has taken place in our country.
In the course of this week, Wednesday, 24th February, to be precise, we took another concrete step in our quest to rid our nation of COVID-19, with the arrival in the country of six hundred thousand (600,000) doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first consignment of many more to come.
I indicated in Update No. 23 that the earliest vaccine would be in the country by March. However, by dint of hard work and sheer determination, Government was able to secure the first batch of vaccine doses in February, a month ahead of schedule.
We are the first country in the world to be recipients of vaccines from the COVAX Facility, and I want to express my appreciation to members of the COVID-19 Taskforce, which I chair, and to officials of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service for this commendable feat. The vaccine deployment plan we submitted to WHO, which unlocked this consignment, was well-received.
They have done a yeoman’s job, and our nation is indebted to them. We are grateful, also, naturally, to the contributors and managers of the COVAX Facility.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of two (2) vaccines that have, so far, been approved and declared as safe-for-use by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). With the process of certification currently ongoing for the other vaccines, the range of vaccines available to us will increase. This will facilitate our ability to reach our target of vaccinating twenty million Ghanaians by the end of this year.
Through the National Vaccine Deployment Plan, our population has been segmented into four groups, and this will determine which section of the population gets vaccinated at a particular time.
Group 1 is categorised as “persons most at risk and frontline State officials”. It includes healthcare workers, frontline security personnel, persons with underlying medical conditions, persons sixty (60) years and above, and frontline members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
Group 2 is made up of other essential service providers and the rest of the security agencies. It includes water and electricity supply services, teachers and students, supply and distribution of fuels, farmers and food value chain, telecommunications services, air traffic and civil aviation control services, meteorological services, air transport services, waste management services, media, public and private commercial transport services, the Police Service, Armed Forces, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, National Fire Service, CEPS Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, and other members of the Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature.
Group 3 consists of the rest of the general public, that is all persons over eighteen (18) years, except for pregnant women. The final group, that is Group 4, will include pregnant mothers and persons under the age of eighteen (18), and they will be vaccinated when an appropriate vaccine, hopefully, is found, or when enough safety data on the present vaccines is available. Special arrangements will be made for persons with disabilities who fall within these groups.
So, from Tuesday, 2nd March, to Monday, 15th March 2021, the Ghana Health Service will begin deployment of the six hundred thousand (600,000) AstraZeneca vaccines, with persons in Groups 1and 2 being the target of this first vaccination campaign. It will be conducted in forty-three (43) districts, which are the epi-centres of the pandemic in the country. They are twenty-five (25) in Greater Accra, sixteen (16) in Ashanti, and two (2) in the Central Region. The Ghana Health Service, as from tomorrow, will give precise details.
Whilst we are, initially, concentrating on the forty-three (43) epicentre-districts, preparations are being made for the vaccination of twenty million Ghanaians through the deployment of some twelve thousand and seventy-one (12,471) vaccinators, thirty-seven thousand, four hundred and thirteen (37,413) volunteers, and two thousand, and seventy-nine (2,079) supervisors for the entire vaccination campaign.