The Upper East Regional Health Service Directorate has announced that it will, from next week, conduct a catchup vaccination exercise to administer the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) to children aged 21 months and 48 months.
The exercise, which will be carried throughout the country, will be conducted in the region from Wednesday, 19th to Tuesday, 25 February 2020, with support from the Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Health and their international and local partners.
A total of 96,799 children in the region are expected to be vaccinated against the deadly viral disease with the week period.
Speaking at a press briefing in Bolgatanga Wednesday, the Regional Director of Health Service, Dr. Winfred Ofosu, said the vaccination will be given to children born in 2016, 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, who could not be vaccinated against the type 2 of the viral disease.
He explained that children who were born within those years got vaccinated against the polio disease alright but missed out on the Type 2 virus vaccine due to the lack of supply which resulted from a global production shortage.
The disease’s type 2 virus, the Regional Health Service Director said, was assumed to have been completely eradicated globally, shifting the concentration of producers worldwide from producing the vaccine that controlled it.
Dr. Ofosu said when that happened children who were born within that period had no protection against the type 2 poliovirus since the health service worked with what was available. He said the catchup vaccination was, therefore, to make up for the deficiency.
The Regional Health directorate said:” As part of the global agenda to eradicate the disease, the Ghana Health Service with the Ministry of Health in collaboration with our international and local partners are going to conduct a nationwide vaccination campaign to administer IPV or Inactivated Polio Vaccines to children aged 21 months and 48 months, that is one year four months to four years”.
“These are children that were born in 2016, 2017, and in 2018 January and February.
These children, unfortunately, did not receive one of the polio vaccines types. This was because the country had to switch from the Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV). Polio is caused by three types of viruses – Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. Along the line Type, 2 cases were not seen globally so it was generally assumed that it was eradicated. So globally the vaccine producers stopped producing the vaccine that is for all the three types and was only producing vaccines for two of the virus- type 1 and type 3”.
Dr. Ofosu disclosed that the Regional Health Directorate has prepared 142 teams that will be positioned at vantage points such markets centres, clinics, schools etc. to administer the vaccine. He explained that “unlike the oral polio vaccine where we move from house to house, this one involves injection and will be at static points”.
Noting the conditions under which the disease can thrive, Dr. Ofosu urged the general public to keep clean environments and maintain good personal hygiene to eliminate the survival of the virus.
He encouraged the general public to desist from defecating in the open and use clean and safer facilities such as KVIPs and water closets.
He allayed fears of the vaccine and encouraged parents, caregivers and the general public to visit the nearest health facility with their children to receive the vaccination, assuring that “every child will be observed for a while after the injection to make sure they are fine before leaving the vaccination point”.
Dr. Ofosu indicated the readiness of the Regional Health Service Directorate to attend to suspected cases of the disease. He urged caregivers and the general public to report any development in their children under 15years, such as sudden paralysis (weakness of the limbs) to the nearest health centre within 24 hours for proper medical attention and examination.
He appealed to parents, caregivers, the general public and the media, particularly, to support the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to successfully undertake the immunization exercise which aims at completely ridding the country of the killer disease.