Health Ministry Tells People To Get Vaccinated Amid Low Covid-19 Vaccine Coverage
By Landing Ceesay
The Ministry of Health disclosed that it has recorded a low coverage for the Covid-19 vaccination and called on the people to be vaccinated.
“Our vaccine coverage is very low in terms of Covid vaccination. We are still around less than 25% and our target is 60% at least. We should be able to reach out to at least 60% of the population. But we cannot reach out to that level now because people are not coming out. Now we have vaccines, with greater demand we should talk to people to come out and get vaccinated.
“We cannot say the vaccine is not available now because we have AstraZeneca in numbers, we have the Sinopharm in numbers and we also have [the]Johnson and Johnson in numbers. Let’s use our medium to get people vaccinated so that we can also go back to our normal lives. Wearing masks always can be inconvenient for some people and others don’t like these restrictions,” the Director of Health Promotion Education, Modou Njai stated.
Njai, who also doubles as the Director of Communication at the Health Ministry said his ministry wants to move on with the vaccination and advising people to adhere to the precautionary measures, in which the ministry wants the media to support.
“The journalists have a role to play, you as journalists have to be a brighter example. You should always be on a mask at all times and you should ensure that you are vaccinated together with your families. You are helping us to spread the message, you are helping us to inform the people, you are helping us to communicate with the people in the language they understand for them to be able to protect themselves against the covid-19 and for them to maintain peace in the covid-19 situation,” he said.
However, he alleged that there have been a lot of discrimination and stigmatization of people in media reports, since the inception of the pandemic.
“We remember at the beginning of the pandemic, there were a lot of fears among the public. Because most people are not disseminating the facts, that brought a lot of fears among the general populace. We have also seen fingers being pointed at certain countries, saying country X is the one that brought the virus, country Y is responsible for the virus, all because of what the media have been reporting about the pandemic.
“We have also seen an instance where people are excluded from certain interventions. We have also seen a situation where people are being discriminated against, people have been stigmatized and it has resulted in people not going for our services at our hospitals. They were linking our facilities to associate with Covid-19 because of the information they were receiving at the time. This information is either from print, electronic or traditional media,” Director Njai said.
The Health Ministry Health Promotion Education Director made these remarks in his opening remarks at the training of journalists on peace and positive messaging on Covid-19.
The 2-day training which started today at a local hotel in Senegambia, is organized by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) in collaboration with the National Youth Council.
It is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote intergenerational dialogue to maintain community peace and dialogue in The Gambia, with the objective to make journalists understand the importance of post COVID 19 positive messaging and how they should be implemented in their daily reporting.