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03.03.2021 Article

Addressing The Vaccine Myth: I Am Prepared To Take The Vaccine

By Frederick Kweku Osei
Hon Francis Addai-Nimoh, Former MP, MampongHon Francis Addai-Nimoh, Former MP, Mampong
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First, I commend the Government, under the leadership of HE Nana Akufo-Addo for providing leadership that has made Ghana once again, a shining example to the world by becoming the first country in the world to receive vaccines under the COVAX facility. Kudos, and this is a major milestone in our collective efforts to defeat COVID 19. We hope this would help in returning life back to normalcy in the shortest possible time.

That said, there are many myths out there which if not addressed, may gravely restrain the speed with which we're inching closer to the defeat of the virus. It is an important part of breaking the myth, that, the President and other notable personalities offered to publicly take the vaccine. This ordinarily should have put matters to rest but, we continue to have the vaccine myths linger on.

Vaccines throughout human history, have been useful tools for overcoming many diseases and epidemics. For example, it was through vaccines that the infamous six childhood killer diseases have been defeated. Vaccines offer essential boost to our immune system, preparing the immune system to fight invading pathogens. They literally put our immune system on alert.

It is worrying that people have interposed unfounded doubts between genuine concerns about vaccines and candid responses from leadership. That is to say - while there are genuine organic fears about taking vaccines which could easily be handle through proper education, there're those who continue to further anti-vaccine propaganda making it difficult to convince unsuspecting masses to take the all-important vaccine.

The vaccines have been linked to some eschatological events such as the '666'. Some claim the vaccines would alter the DNA of recipients. Others say the vaccines would cause infertility, erectile dysfunction, embed a chip in our bodies, cause cancer, etc. These are clearly not in sync with established scientific researches and findings about vaccines. Vaccines have a very simple duty which I described earlier. I urge the Ghanaian citizens to disregard these unhinged accusations against the all-important COVID 19 vaccines.

To address some of the genuine concerns which include - what are the side effects of the vaccines, and are the vaccines to be used in Ghana safe? I would say - every medicine on earth has side effects including paracetamol. Side effects may vary from one person to another and from one medicine to another because we don't have the same genetic constitution and every drug, medicone, vaccine, etc don't have the same active ingredients or make respectively.

It is a global standard that side effects are communicated to consumers of any pharmaceutical product. This is a WHO standard to promote transparency. Further, vaccine preparation generally goes through a lot of processes beginning from the conception stage down to the critical stage of clinical trials without which, a vaccine cannot be approved for use. Yes, it is true that sometimes the outcomes of the clinical trials may vary slightly from data collected after mass use but the minimum safety requirements are established at the clinical trial stage. It is therefore safe to say vaccines approved for use at both international and national levels are safe for use.

In respect of the concerns about the wholesomeness of the vaccines to be used in Ghana, I say, the COVAX facility has its vaccines from Astrazeneca and Oxford. Contrary to claims that COVAX is the name of Ghana's vaccine - COVAX is the code name for 'COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access' which was launched by WHO to assist poor to middle level income countries to have access to vaccines. Countries such as Canada, US, Germany, France, etc have all approved the Astrazeneca and Oxford vaccine whose efficacy was rated around 60% at the trial stage. Ghana therefore only joins the league of countries to use that vaccine as the first to receive for free but not to use the vaccine for the first time.

I am firm in my mind that, to defeat this pandemic, citizens must trust leadership and leadership must be forthright with citizens. The synergistic effect of such a government-citizen interface is what can help us overcome the challenges of the time. That's why after satisfying myself with all the facts, I have no doubt, the vaccines to be used in Ghana are safe and constitute an important impetus toward the defeat of the virus.

As a former member of parliament and NPP presidential aspirant, I am going to take the vaccine at the nearest given opportunity and I urge every Ghanaian to avail him-/her- self for vaccination whenever possible especially for those who have underlying health conditions. We have always cried to God for relief from this pandemic and we cannot turn away from this opportunity that's beaconing at us. For me, this is God's sent mercy to relieve his children from the oppressive claws of Covid 19. Thank you God!

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