By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Ministry of Health will commence another round of nationwide COVID-19 vaccinations campaign on the 1st of March 2023. This is the 9th in a series of vaccination campaigns embarked upon by the Ministry since it’s first campaign in 2021 following the initial launch by His Excellency Adama Barrow, the President of the Republic of the Gambia.
The nationwide campaign, which will start on the 1st of March and last through the 10th of March 2023, is targeting and prioritizing Healthcare Workers, persons with pre-existing Conditions, Security personnel, Teachers, Elderly persons 65 years and above, Hoteliers, and Individuals who are 12 years and above.
Since the Gambia registered its first COVID-19 case on the 18th of March 2020, the country registered a total of 12,593 cases and Cumulative Deaths 372 with a Fatality Rate of 3.0%.
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Speaking to the Journalist, Deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education, Mr Sanjally Trawally, emphasized the need for citizens to be vaccinated against the virus.
“These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. People need to take these vaccines, because the benefits are obvious. If you take the vaccine, the tendency of catching the virus is very minimal as compared to someone who doesn’t take the vaccine.
“So we want to minimize that risk. So I think by now is a common understanding that this is not the first time. We conducted the last round, and it has never been reported that somebody develops very serious side effects or advanced effects. So it is proven in this country that these vaccines have been safe and effective,” Mr. Trawally said.
Mr Sidat Fofana, Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) said the government is very concerned Gambia still did not vaccinate 50℅ of the population.
“There are possibilities of a new variant coming. So if you are protected from the old ones and a new one comes, that can be catastrophic. For a small population like the Gambia, 2 million people. If other countries managed to vaccinate more than 50℅ of their population, what are we waiting for?
“That is why the government and parents are continuing. We ran out of the Pfizer vaccine but over the past three days, we have had about three to four shipments and more are coming. If it is not important, they will not bother themselves. They will fold their hands and keep their monies. But no, they see that it is a problem globally. So the only way to escape from the problem is to make sure that you vaccinate your people,” he added.
Gando G Baldeh, a senior health officer of the Ministry of Health, said the Gambia has been known for having 90℅ immunisation coverage in all the vaccinations they have done in the country.
“COVID-19 is the only vaccination that came to the Gambia, it can’t still get to 50℅ coverage. But all our 13 other vaccines we are rendering in this country, all of them, when you look at their coverages they are above 90℅,” he said.
Mr Baldah further appealed to the public to take the vaccines so that they can reach their targeted number.
The campaign is expected to roll out from the 1st of March to the 10th of March 2023 targeting all Regions in the country by visiting communities, institutions, town centers, and markets, including house-to-house.