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Vaccines, “act of good neighborliness”, Bishops in Ghana Say, Encourage Getting Vaccinated

Days after the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana, Catholic Bishops in the West African nation are encouraging the people of God in the country to get vaccinated.

In their Wednesday, March 3 collective statement, members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) have described COVID-19 vaccines as “an act of good neighborliness” because those who get vaccinated protect themselves and others from contracting the disease. 

“We wish to encourage our Priests, consecrated men and women and all Christ's faithful, and indeed every Ghanaian, to avail themselves of the opportunity to be vaccinated,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana say in their collective statement signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh. 

Referencing the Prayer for an end to Coronavirus Outbreak that was composed by the leadership of  Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), GCBC members call on Ghanaians to “see the arrival of the vaccine as an answer to our prayer and avail ourselves of the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

Through the SECAM Prayer, the people of God in Africa and Madagascar pray that “an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found.”

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In their March 3 statement availed to ACI Africa, GCBC members highlight some four benefits of COVID-19 vaccine.

First, they say, the vaccine will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and deaths among people.

The vaccine “will improve the psychological well-being of Ghanaians,” the Bishops say, and as a third benefit, COVID-19 vaccine will “improve quality of life by removing disruptions in educational, social and economic activities.”

The vaccine will also “improve international travels especially among countries that have received vaccination,” the members of GCBC say.

On February 24, Ghana became the first country outside India to receive the vaccine. The 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which is licensed to the Serum Institute of India, were shipped to the West African country via the COVAX facility. 

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COVAX is a partnership between the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It aims at reducing vaccine disparity between high and low-income countries by availing the inoculations to developing nations. 

The first phase of the vaccine administration is expected to prioritize health workers, elderly persons above the age of 60, those with comorbid conditions and high-ranking government officials.  

In the March 3 message, Catholic Bishops in Ghana dismiss the myths and safety concerns about the vaccine saying, “If the Government was unsure of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, they would not have prioritized themselves and frontline health workers who are so much needed at this crucial time to receive the vaccines first.”

They add, “All national bodies set up to test, assess and monitor vaccines, drugs and other products for consumption have done due diligence and understand the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and the implications of undertaking a nation-wide vaccination.”

The Bishops note various myths surrounding the vaccine such as receiving the vaccine can give you COVID-19, the inoculation can cause infertility in people who receive it, it can transmit the disease, it has the potential of changing the human DNA, and that the jab is “a mark of the beast.”

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They dispel the claims as myths that bear falsehood and that “there is nothing demonic about the vaccine.”

“It is our fervent prayer and hope that many of you will avail yourselves for this exercise since we cannot coerce anybody to do so,” GCBC members say, and implore, “May Mary our Mother of Perpetual Help and Health of the Sick continue to intercede for us.”