By Fatou Dahaba
Lamin Ceesay, a senior logistician at EPI Programme, Ministry of Health has said that the vaccination is going on well despite the hesitancy around it.
However, he noted that his ministry is working with partners in sensitising people about the importance of taking the vaccines.
According to him, so far they have vaccinated over 400,000 people while targeting 70% of the population by year’s end.
“As a result of hesitance, the ministry did a study to find out what was the problem. It also relied on a study conducted by Afro Barrow Meter as to what led to the vaccine hesitancy in the country,” he explained.
“This helped the ministry to put some measures that would address the challenges. There were strategies that were implored which includes policy makers, opinion leaders, traditional communicators, religious leaders, drama groups and media personals who helped sensitize the masses on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccinations and all these were useful.”
He added that they would start another campaign from 10th August 2022 in a bid to meet their 70% target.
WHO’s primary focus now is to support countries to turn vaccines into vaccinations as fast as possible.
“We must ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, and ensure every country receive and roll them out to protect their people, starting with the most vulnerable,” says WHO.
Babucarr Ceesay, principal of Burbage Nursery School and a resident of Latri Kunda Sabiji in the Kanifing Municipality (KM) said he took the vaccination in order to avoid being infected with COVID-19 and future re-occurances of the COVID new variant as well as to protect himself and his family.
“Initially it was really difficult to take the jab due to the grapevines associated with the vaccine. But then due to the circumstances at the time I was left with no other option than to take it.”
He added that he feels rejuvenated and since then all the minor ailments that had been grappling with have faded away.
Njemeh Jobe, a resident of Pipeline who also took her vaccine some time back last year said she believes even if she contracted the virus it would not be as serious as does that are not vaccinated.
She said contrary to widespread perception of personal risks to the vaccine, she “felt nothing” after receiving it. She urged others to come forward and take the vaccine.
“I felt very little pain immediately after I was injected but I am totally fine now. I am glad to have been vaccinated,” she said.
Fallou Jobe, a native of Bundung said he took the vaccine because it helps the body system to fight other sicknesses different from COVID.
“Getting vaccinated not only reduces your chance of being infected, it also contributes to community protection, reducing the likelihood of the virus transmission.”
Malang Fatty, 26, resident of FajiKunda in the Kanifing Municipality – the biggest municipality in the urban centre, said he did not take his vaccination because he did not trust it.
Malang fears the side effects the vaccine does to some people such as making one dizzy and feeling kind of sick.
“I’m also not convinced about the effectiveness the vaccine can do to my health.”
Malang is one of the people who are consumed by misinformation. According to Malang, he does not want to take his vaccine because he believes the virus is not effective in the Western part of Africa.
Many Gambians believe the shot would stop their blood from flowing altogether, thanks to misinformation.
Adama Camara, a resident of Manjai in the KM, said she is not interested in the COVID-19 vaccine and will only get vaccinated when she is about to travel.
Adama, like many Gambians feel safe without the vaccines because she believes her immune system is strong enough to fight the deadly virus.
The fear and misinformation previously hampering Malang and Adama, is one that is affecting thousands of Gambians and causing low vaccine uptake in the country.
In March 2021, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the country amid at ensure citizens are vaccinated to protect them from contracting the virus and reducing it’s severity when one contract it. It was also aed at rising misinformation and fake news around them, thus propelling vaccine hesitancy through social and traditional media, and other channels.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Kaba Communication and The Daily News.
Photo from UNICEF Gambia Facebook page.