(Reuters) – Ghana will ramp up its COVID-19 inoculation campaign next month and make the vaccine mandatory for targeted groups including all public sector and health workers from Jan. 22, health service director general Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said on Sunday.
Ghana, like most African nations, has seen a sluggish uptake in COVID-19 vaccinations despite an increase in supplies. Only 1.4 million people out Ghana’s population of 30 million are fully vaccinated.
The government will hold a vaccination drive in December after which the vaccine will be mandatory for employees in all arms of government, health workers, security personnel, staff and students of secondary and tertiary education, and commercial drivers, Kuma-Aboagye told a news conference.
“Pockets of vaccine hesitancy pose a risk to gains made so far. Current low numbers recorded in country may not be maintained if vaccine uptake not increased significantly,” he said.
He said proof of vaccination will also be needed for nightclubs, beaches, sports stadiums and restaurants.
Only 21% of the targeted population have received the first dose, while 7% are fully vaccinated, health ministry data showed. Ghana has to date recorded 131,083 coronavirus cases and 1,220 deaths.
Kuma-Aboagye said the health ministry hopes to double daily vaccinations from over 142,000 currently as the country braces for a potential surge in cases after the holiday.
The head of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that many African nations are struggling with the logistics of accelerating their COVID-19 inoculation campaigns. Only 6.6% of Africa’s population of 1.2 billion is fully vaccinated.
The country has received over 12 million doses and will take delivery of around 7 million more by the end of December, Kuma-Aboagye said.
Kuma-Aboagye said mobile health teams will take vaccines to schools, markets, churches, and house-to-house in villages.
“They’ll not come out to get the vaccine, but if you take it to them, they’ll take it,” he said.
He added that the Omicron variant has not been identified in Ghana so far.