The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will begin the administration of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from today.
The move forms part of the revision made to the national COVID-19 vaccination policy by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with stakeholders.
The policy has also been revised to include the vaccination of pregnant women, who will receive either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, announced the review at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday.
He said the implementation of the booster policy would be in phases, with the initial phase targeting the three arms of government, health workers, people with underlying health conditions, people 60 years or above and all frontline security personnel.
The minister said the boosters were supposed to be taken between three and six months after being fully vaccinated.
â€œWe have reviewed the national vaccination policy to include booster doses and the vaccination of pregnant women.
The National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) proposed the update made today, which has been accepted for implementation. We will continue to ensure the safety and health of all Ghanaians,â€ he said.
Arrival policy exemptions
Additionally, the policy had been revised to exempt Ghanaians and resident non-Ghanaians who were partially vaccinated or unvaccinated from the current policy, which required all arriving at the Kotoka International Airport to show proof of full vaccination or be vaccinated before allowed to board any airline to the country or be vaccinated on arrival, Mr Agyeman-Manu said.
However, he explained that the exempt group would be offered the opportunity to take the vaccines on arrival, stressing that refusal to take the jab would attract a seven-day mandatory quarantine at a cost to the individual.
He said the country had also revised its de-isolation and discharge guidelines for all persons testing positive for COVID-19 from 10 to seven days after testing positive, irrespective of vaccination status.
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, gave an assurance to all target groups of the COVID-19 vaccination, particularly the latest addition â€” expectant mothers â€” that all safety due diligence had been done to uphold public health strictly.
He assured pregnant women that the vaccines would not have any consequences on their pregnancies or unborn babies (foetuses).
Throwing more light on the de-isolation and discharge policy review, Dr Kuma-Aboagye reiterated the fact that the duration for isolation after testing positive would be seven days.
â€œAll hospitalised patients without symptoms will de-isolate 10 days after testing positive. In cases of high or moderate risk exposure to someone infected with COVID-19, the affected person will stay at home/self-quarantine until day five after last exposure.
â€œIf symptoms develop, the person will be tested for COVID-19. If the result is negative, the person can resume normal activities on day five. Where test is positive, the person will stay isolated until day seven after last exposure,â€ Dr Kuma-Aboagye said.
The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the country started in phases among segmented populations in March last year.
Phase one targeted segmented populations who were at most risk, including frontline health workers, people with underlying health conditions and people 60 years and above, and ended in October Last year.
The GHS expanded the vaccination exercise to the general population in order to achieve herd immunity and subsequently reduce the burden of the disease.
The second phase, which targeted the public, except people below 18 years and expectant mothers, began from October 26, last year.
The GHS made it clear from the start that the exempt group would be vaccinated when adequate scientific evidence on safety became available.
The Pfizer vaccine has been authorised for children aged 15 and beyond, widening the Ghana population that will be protected against the virus.