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Some 412 children in the Ketu North Municipality of the Volta region have taken all four doses of malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 since the pilot implementation of the vaccine started in April, 2019.

The pilot implementation exercise in the Ketu North Municipality has been bedeviled with misconceptions relating to the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, a situation that has brought hesitance among some parents who would not allow their children to take up the vaccine.

In an earlier interview with the Ketu North Municipal Disease Control Officer, Christopher Kankpetinge, he disclosed that “It is a challenge, not just only with malaria but generally, it has affected other service delivery. People actually are hesitant to visit the health facilities for care for the fear of contracting the Coronavirus. Others also have the perception that some medications given to them at the facilities are medications that can transmit the virus to them so they have been hesitant going to the facilities.”

Referring to the RST, S malaria vaccine, Mr. Kankpetinge said, “With the doses, there was a time staff went for outreaches to give vaccination and people felt like because there is Covid-19 in the system, the Ghana Health Service has smuggled Covid-19 vaccine into the system to give to their children -they waited, the mothers never came out with their children. That has been the challenge as at now and as I speak, I got complains that some parents are still refusing the vaccine on these grounds,” he added.

Despite the increasing fears among parents, record available indicate also that a significant number of children in the Municipality are taking the vaccine, though, with consistent marginal decline.

Apart from the 412 children who have completed a full dosage of RTS,S1, RTS,S2, RTS,S3 and RTS,S4 by the end of 2020 another set of 2,723 children have already taken a first dose (RTS,S1) of the malaria vaccine.

For 2019, 1851 children were vaccinated with RTS,S1, another 1,556 children took RTS,S2 while 1,045 took RTS,S3.

By the end of 2020, 2,633 children were immunized with RTS,S2 while 2,455 children returned for RTS,S3.

According to health officials in the Municipality, the vaccination teams are regularly tracking caregivers to ensure that all children as possible, are vaccinated.

Regarding the Covid-19 misconceptions, the Ketu North Municipal Health directorate has been engaged in consistent community education to allay the fears of caregivers.

At the St. Anthony’s hospital in Dzodze, the news team caught up with Mad. Afi Sewordzi, a resident who had brought the son to a mass clinic for the last dose of the vaccine RTS,S4.

She explained that, “My child took all three doses of RTS,S1, RTS,S2 and RTS,S3 but nothing happened to him and so, I believe that the vaccine is not a deadly vaccine or has nothing to do with Covid-19 that’s why I have returned here with him to take the last dose.”

The team also met up with Cynthia Ahiayibor -mother of Victor Ahiayibor, who had just turned 2-years old and had taken his last dose of the malaria vaccine.

She said, “I had no fears because I trusted the nurses who kept telling us that the vaccine is safe for the children. I went through to ensure that my son takes the last dose which he took today and he is fine.”

She advised other parents to allay their fears and allow their children to take the vaccine.

The pilot implementation of the malaria vaccine which is currently underway in selected areas across Ghana, Kenya, and Malaria is expected to cover at least 600,000 young children who would have received a first dose of the vaccine by World Malaria Day, which coincides with the African Vaccination Week to be held on April 25, 2021.

Source: Starrfm.com.gh/103.5fm/Faisel Abdul-Iddrisu

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