The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has stated that multiple doses of the oral polio type 2 vaccines are not harmful to children eligible for immunisation.
Launching the Greater Accra polio vaccination line-up for all children under five at Agblogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, yesterday, the Director General (DG), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, assured that “the vaccines are safe and effective to prevent type2 polio and protect children from the disabling and potentially deadly polio disease.
“If your child has completed the routine polio dose today, it still does not matter, take them for the vaccination. This is an immune booster, the more the child takes it, the more they are protected and at no risk of the disease,” he maintained.
The round zero vaccination which began from yesterday to September 14, 2019, would focus on all districts within the Greater Accra region.
As such, teams of health workers and volunteers numbering close to 1000 have been deployed to move from house to house, schools, markets, lorry stations, churches and mosques across the region to vaccinate all children under five years.
“There will also be fixed posts at all health facilities, regular weighing centres and other designated areas for the vaccination,” Dr Nsiah-Asare said.
Urging all parents and care givers within the region to ensure that their children under age five got vaccinated, the DG insisted that the injection was free of charge and “no one should pay any amount to receive the vaccine.”
“If anyone charges you for the vaccination, report them to any district office near you,” he urged, indicating that, a round one vaccination exercise for the disease had been scheduled from September 25 to 28, 2019.
“This will also cover all districts in the Greater Accra, Northern, North East, Savannah and Upper East regions. Round two has been scheduled for October 16 to 19 and that will cover only districts in the Northern, North East, Savannah and Upper East regions.”
The GHS, Dr Nsiah-Asare noted, had also planned a nationwide vaccination against the disease using inactivated polio vaccine (otherwise known as IPV which is injectable) “for all children born from January 2016 to June 2018 in all districts across the country during the months of October and November this year.”
Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Owen Kaluwa in a remark commended the Ministry of Health (MOH) and GHS for completing the first round of polio vaccination in high risk districts of the Northern region following the outbreak of the disease.
In his view, the vaccination campaign in the Greater Accra Region presented an opportunity for parents and caregivers to protect their children against the deadly disease.
“The WHO and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), join the MOH to call for full support of all sectors to create awareness and generate demand for the vaccination campaign.
“Parents and caregivers are encouraged to send their children to the nearest vaccination center for them to benefit from this important campaign,” he advised.
The GHS in July this year declared a public health emergency following the detection of polio virus type 2 in a two-year old girl at Chereponi in the North East Region and the environment, from a drain at Agbogbloshie in the Accra metropolis of the Greater Accra region.
Polio is an infectious disease which mainly affects young children especially those under five years causing muscle weakness and paralysis in about 0.5 per cent of cases reported.
It is spread from person to person mostly through oro-faecal routes, multiplies in intestines from where it subsequently invades the nervous system causing paralysis most often in the limbs.
Symptoms of polio are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and pains in the limbs. People living in areas with poor sanitation are at high risk of the disease.
Treatment is mainly supportive and can be prevented through vaccination, improved sanitation and personal hygiene.