The Northern Regional Health Directorate has confirmed that about 480 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have gone to waste due to its inability to exhaust its supply of vaccines at the close of the vaccination exercise on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
According to the Directorate, the decision to end the exercise was a precautionary measure taken on the advice of the Food and Drugs Authority, as the current AstraZeneca vaccines available in the region are expected to expire on Friday, April 16.
In a Citi News interview, the Director in charge of Public Health, Hilarious Abiwu explained that the AstraZeneca vaccines which were produced on October 16, 2020, are expected to be used within six months, after which they are likely to lose their potency.
“This batch of vaccines was manufactured on 16 October 2020 and FDA approves that we can use it within six months. So effectively, the sixth month will be the 16th [of April], so for safety reasons, FDA anticipated that we shouldn’t vaccinate to the very last day. So we had three clear days to the six months date,” he explained.
The Northern Region began its COVID-19 vaccination exercise on March 26, 2021, with some 17,000 doses targeting health workers.
The exercise, which was intended to last for five days was extended due to some technical challenges and low turnout by health workers.
According to the regional health directorate, 30.1 percent of health workers in the region took the vaccine by the close of the seventh day.
The region later received additional, 10,000 doses of the vaccine, which was then extended to priority groups including, the security services, UN agencies, churches and some government institutions.
Health officials were hopeful of exhausting their vaccine supply, but this was not possible as some districts still had some doses which were yet to be administered.
“As of Tuesday, the vaccine we had in stock had been completely administered. But we needed to do an audit of the data in terms of the number of doses that we have on record as having been given out and also vaccines that we have received, that was when we found out that there were a few districts that had a few vials of the vaccine that we couldn’t use as at the close of yesterday.”
He also explained the circumstances that led to the wastage.
“Generally, the instruction out there is that if you open any of the vaccines, and you are not able to use them, you cannot use them again. Sometimes you could be using a vial of the vaccine, and maybe you are left with some. And when you draw it into the syringe, and it is not up to the dose, you are not allowed, for instance, to draw from another bottle. So then you have to discard it.”
“All of these form part of the total wastage,” Mr. Abiwu stated.
He added that “these have been requested to be brought back to the regional level so that they don’t get used. So in all, we have about 48 of these vials which make up 480 doses which have been brought to the regional office, forming part of our wastage.”
A total of 26,512 persons were vaccinated in the region at the close of exercise in the Northern Region.
Some residents who took their jabs, however, complained of some mild undesirable effects a day after they were inoculated. Those who could not get vaccinated during the first phase of the exercise told Citi News they are waiting for the second phase to get vaccinated.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has vaccinated about 800,000 Ghanaians against COVID-19 since the rollout of the mass vaccination exercise across the country on March 2, 2021.
Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Service, who announced this at Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, said nearly all health workers, both public and private, had been vaccinated.