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Regional News of Thursday, 30 September 2021

Source: GNA

CPMR calls for intensive public education on coronavirus vaccines

Coronavirus vaccination - File photo Coronavirus vaccination - File photo

The Centre for Plant Medicine Research Mampong-Akuapem (CPMR), has called for aggressive public education on COVID-19 vaccines to reduce a potential high rate of vaccine hesitancy among the adult population.

It said this was important as research conducted by the CPMR had revealed that a significant number of Ghanaians were hesitant towards COVID-19 vaccines, a statement issued in Accra on the report and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said.

Dr. Kofi Bobi Barimah, Acting Executive Director of CPMR, said against the backdrop of conspiracy theories gaining traction, especially on social media, the CPMR conducted a rapid study between April and June, 2021 across the 16 regions to find out the attitudes and opinions of Ghanaians towards COVID-19 vaccines.

He observed that it was alarming that out of the 64.6 per cent of the respondents sampled 33.2 per cent either believed the vaccines were developed to harm people while 34.1 per cent were not sure.

The study also revealed that only 35.4 per cent of respondents believed the vaccines were not developed by some people to destroy others and total of 683 respondents sampled, 15 per cent had very little or no knowledge of the COVID-19 infection.

This, it said, “was pronounced among participants living in communities with low or no recorded infection”.

It further indicated that 30.6 per cent of the respondents said they would not take the vaccine and 27.5 per cent were undecided if given the opportunity to vaccinate.

"Similarly, 46 per cent of the respondents either believed the COVID-19 vaccine will not offer the desired protection 18.7 per cent and 27.2 per cent were not sure,"Dr. Kofi Donkor, the principal investigator of the study, said.

"Dr. Donkor indicated that a very worrying outcome was the fact that participants in the focus group discussion expressed fear that the 64.6 per cent of the respondents who either believed the vaccines were developed to harm people or were not sure could be susceptible to vaccine hesitancy.

This means that almost 60 per cent of adult Ghanaians may not readily accept the vaccine when given the opportunity to vaccinate," he stated.

It said the low level of education on the part of the government to counteract the barrage of false information accounted for the significant number of people who believe the COVID-19 vaccines were developed to harm people.

It added that, “Respondents in the focus group discussion also noted that there was little or no awareness creation on the part of governmental agencies in communities that have not had any confirmed COVID-19 infection resulting in lack of awareness in these communities.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Government of Ghana has rolled out strategies to vaccinate about 20 million Ghanaians by the end of the year 2021; and so far, over 1.4 million doses of vaccines have been administered by 20th August, 2021 according to the FDA.

Dr. Alfred Appiah, the Deputy Executive Director of the CPMR, noted that “Unfortunately, the outcomes of this study suggest that it may be difficult to achieve the 20 million vaccination target; and more importantly, the herd immunity threshold needed to curb the spread of COVID-19, even if the vaccines are available for all Ghanaians.

As the government makes frantic efforts to acquire more vaccines to be administered to the population, this study has shown that an equal or even greater effort must be made in creating awareness of COVID-19 especially among low infected communities. Similarly, an aggressive public education to counteract conspiracy theories especially on social media must be waged,” it stated.

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