A yellow fever vaccination campaign has started in 28 districts in nine regions of the country where suspected cases of the disease have been recorded.
The five-day campaign, which started on February 26 and ends on March 2, will inject people aged nine months to 60 years (excluding pregnant women) with the yellow fever vaccine to protect them from the disease. .
Regions include Savannah, Ashanti, Greater Accra, Oti, Northern, Upper West, Bono and Bono East.
This is the second phase of the vaccination campaign after the first phase was held in December 2021, targeting approximately four regions, including Savannah, where the first case was recorded.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is spearheading the campaign with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) among other partners.
After the first phase of the vaccination campaign, it was realized that pockets of the disease still existed and some new communities also started to register cases, hence the second phase.
Dr. Michael Biredu, Savannah’s Deputy Regional Health Director for Public Health, in a meeting with UNICEF officials in Damongo, said the necessary logistics have been deployed to ensure the program runs smoothly.
Yellow fever is a virus transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, an infection that can cause severe illness and death.
Symptoms include fever, yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, bleeding (from the nose, ears, mouth and other parts of the body), chills, general body aches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and weakness, shock and multi-organ failure.
In October 2021, the Savannah area reported suspected cases of yellow fever, and the cases were confirmed positive by the National Public Health Reference Laboratory and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
Samples sent to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar (IPD) were also confirmed positive for yellow fever.
The outbreak is now widespread, with 13 of the country’s 16 regions, including Savannah, Upper West, Bono and Bono East, confirming cases and more than 40 people have died from the disease.
As of February 22, 2021, the total number of suspected cases of the disease stood at 852, cases confirmed by immunoglobulin at 137 and cases confirmed by PCR of the IPD (Dakar) at 70.
UNICEF, a partner in the vaccination campaign, deployed four teams to the Savannah, Upper West, Bono and Bono East regions to monitor the exercise.
UNICEF works with the Ghana Health Service’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) and provides technical assistance and financial support to build the capacity of health personnel, provide necessary vaccines and logistics, and support EPI in the community mobilization and sensitization efforts.
Additionally, it provides technical assistance during the vaccination campaign and works with GHS to strengthen cold chain systems in various ways, including providing ultra-low temperature refrigerators to GHS.
Mr. Bhanu Pathak, Head of the UNICEF Field Office in Tamale, who led a team to monitor the vaccination campaign in the Savannah region, stressed the need for commitment to ensure that all communities and populations be covered to protect citizens.