In the Gambia, vaccine rollout commenced on the 10th March, 2021, at State House, Banjul, where the President took his first dose of the vaccine calling it the “final solution” to end the spread of the virus.
Speaking to this medium, Muhammed Jobe, a data collector at Society for the Study of Women's Health(SSWH), said he hadn’t seen any serious side effects after he took his first dose of the vaccine. “Nothing was wrong with me except for the fact that I felt that my hand was heavy, which disappeared on the next day.”
“Well I think the government is doing its best. The messages are clear and anyone that wants to be vaccinated should be able to do so,” said
Sainabou Jawoh, a teacher at Latrikunda Sabiji Upper Basic school. She, however, expressed disappointment with regard to the suspension of public health officials and said that the move would affect the vaccination campaign. “It's not a good move. There might be people that might want to be vaccinated and wouldn’t be able to do so because public health officials are on suspension.”
Baboucarr Fatty, a concerned citizen, working with the Centre for Research and Community Development, said every responsible citizen should take the vaccine to protect themselves and their families.
He added that the side effects of the vaccine are not life threatening. “When I took the vaccine, I was weak and kind of dizzy for the first three days.” He explained that since he has been vaccinated, he felt protected and has not been infected since then.
The minister for health Dr. Ahmadou Samateh, while thanking the United States during the arrival of the second tranche of Covid-19 vaccines in the country, urged the public to join hands in the fight against the virus. “I want to remind and appeal to everyone in The Gambia to take this opportunity to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and help the country rise above the pandemic.”
During the launch, Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF representative in The Gambia, said, “the excellent effort at global solidarity and multilateralism is moving extremely quickly, and this represents a significant milestone in the history of public health of The Gambia. We believe that with this, we are going to reach that vision which is that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.”
Since then, many Gambians have been vaccinated despite struggles against misconceptions due to misinformation especially on social media.
How far is The Gambia from its 70% vaccination target?
The latest data from the multilateral Leaders Task Force on Covid-19 in The Gambia shows that the government is slowly moving towards achieving its 70% target population for vaccination.If met, it means the vaccination of about 1.2 million people out of a population of 2. 5 million people. The required doses to ensure that the target is met is 3.5 million and so far, the delivered doses stand at 840,000 out of which 810,000 have been delivered. Thus, out of the 70% target, 13.4% has been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, according to the ministry of health, as of the 6th of March 2022, 45,192 people had received their first dose while 317,840 had received their second dose of vaccine. The death toll is at 365, with 7 new cases and 11,583 recoveries.
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 Point Newspaper.