The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will immunise children under five years old against polio from September 10-13, 2020.
A second round will be conducted from October 8-11 this year, with both exercises targeted at children in 179 districts in eight regions.
The exercise is a sequel to what the GHS started in July and August last year following the detection of type two of the polio virus (cVDPV2) in some children and also in environmental sewerage samples.
The targeted regions are the Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Western, Western North, Volta, Ashanti and the Upper West.
The Deputy Programme Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Mr John Frederick Dadzie, explained that for both immunisation exercises, the children would be administered with the monovalent type two polio vaccine to protect them from the type two polio paralysis.
“A total of 4,568,864 children are expected to be immunised in each round of the campaign in the participating regions,” he added.
He said the EPI would use all its strategies, including house-to-house immunisation, community to community mobilisation and immunisation, and the setting up of immunisation posts at the various health centres to ensure that all eligible children in the targeted regions were immunised during both exercises.
Mr Dadzie recounted that in July and August 2019, Ghana confirmed two events of cVDPV2 from environmental surveillance sites in Koblimagu in the Tamale Metropolis in the Northern Region and Agbogbloshie in the Accra metropolis in the Greater Accra Region.
He added that a first human case was confirmed in August 2019 in a sample from a girl just three months short of three years in the Chereponi District of the North East Region.
He emphasised that these occurrences triggered immediate response actions which included vaccination campaigns in Northern, North East, Savannah and Greater Accra regions.
Since then, there had been additional 28 confirmed cases in children and a total of 115 confirmed environmental cases from eight environmental surveillance sites.
The outbreak response campaigns were actively being pursued until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which temporarily halted the planned campaign implementation activities.
With the ease in the COVID-19 restrictions, he said, they were returning to the field to conduct the campaigns.
Mr Dadzie said the key objective of the September and October campaigns was to break the transmission and prevent the spread of the cVDPV2 by increasing population immunity against the type 2 poliovirus and ultimately prevent further polio outbreaks in the country.
He advised caregivers to send their children for immunisation because vaccine-preventable diseases were still present even during this COVID-19 time.
He expressed concern that immunisation coverage in the country had declined since the outbreak of COVID-19, adding that comparing the immunisation data of half-year 2019 and 2020, there had been a significant reduction in the coverage of all the antigens.
That, he said, was worrisome and all efforts were being made to halt and reverse the downward trend.
Mr Dadzie said they were planning to support regions to conduct mop-up exercises in areas with low immunisation coverage to get the children who were left out to be immunised.
He reiterated that the vaccine was safe and efficacious, stressing that no child should be made to miss out of the campaigns.
He urged all, including the media, Information Services Department, National Commission for Civic Education, and Coalition of NGOs in Health to encourage parents, especially mothers, to get the children vaccinated during the upcoming polio immunisation exercises to protect their children against polio.
Source: General News