How do you successfully roll out COVID-19 vaccines in a country where an appreciable number of the population say they will not take it?
Ghana is on the front line in the war against vaccine hesitancy; one of the first countries in Africa to receive bulk shipments of the vaccine. Celebrities and public figures have joined the campaign to convince people to ignore conspiracy theories circulating on social media. Even the president, who has received his shot, deemed it necessary to reassure Ghanaians their DNA will not be changed by the vaccine, and that it was not designed to “wipe out the African race."
Vaccine skepticism is not unique to Ghana, but the success or failure of its rollout is a useful window on some of the complex historical and cultural reasons holding people back in Africa.
The memory of the controversial 2015 Ebola vaccine trials, run by Johnson and Johnson, may also have contributed to negative attitudes to foreign vaccines. The trials, intended for Ghana’s Volta region, were suspended by Ghana’s Health Ministry after protests from parliamentarians and the public. This video documentary by GHOne TV’s Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman investigates whether the collective memory of colonial times has influenced the current skepticism.
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