By Olimatou Coker
Several street vendors within the Greater Banjul Area took it upon themselves to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to minimize the spread of the virus and protect themselves, their families, and the people they meet on daily basis.
Speaking to The Standard, Isatou Fatty, a street vendor and a vegetable seller at Hegan Street in Banjul, said she took the jab to contribute her quota in curbing the spread of the virus. “I usually sit in an open place every day and also meet different people on a daily basis, so taking this vaccine has really helped in protecting myself and my customers.”
Lamin Drammeh, a street vendor who sells at the Banjul Albert Market, said it is his responsibility to protect himself by taking the Covid-19 vaccine.
He noted that streets are places where they interact with different people daily and therefore it is crucial that they take the jab.
“This is a very good initiative and we are so happy that the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Health took the initiative to organize nationwide campaigns to vaccinate citizens. The vaccines are effective and we appeal to Government to bring more into the country to ensure all citizens are vaccinated,” he stated.
Binat Camara said: “I took the vaccine to protect myself and my family having seen the number of positive Covid-19 cases and deaths in The Gambia.”
Mrs. Camara said she has full confidence as far as the vaccines are concerned. “The confidence I have in the vaccines is why I was able to convince my family to get vaccinated as well. I encouraged them not to listen to the misconception and rumors attached to the vaccines because they are super effective,” she added.
Fatou Drammeh, a customer, said there is a need for other street food vendors to also take the jab in order to prevent themselves from the deadly virus. She also appealed to buyers that always come in contact with vendors on a daily basis to equally get vaccinated.
Isatou Sillah, also a customer, said the importance of the vaccines cannot be over-emphasized. “This is a step in the right direction considering that the virus is very dangerous and a killer disease.”
Alpha Mamadou Jallow, another street vendor, said the perception he had about the vaccines was that it will kill him but he came to realize the importance and the positive effect it will have on his health. For this reason, he said he decided to get vaccinated with confidence.
Mbye Njie, deputy programme manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Ministry of Health said the decline in the number of positive Covid-19 cases might not be directly linked with the vaccination but added that it has an impact because the vaccine protects people from contracting the virus and prevent the severe condition of the virus when one contract it.
“We have not done a study to say that the vaccinations are the result of the decline in positive cases but vaccines protect people against diseases and we believe it has contributed to the reduction of positive cases in the country,” he stated.
Mr. Njie noted that some people were reluctant at first to take the vaccine due to misconceptions but in their bid to avoid the vaccines from getting expired they expanded the priority groups and included those beyond 18 years in the vaccination campaign.
He added that convincing people to get vaccinated was a challenge but starting with President Adama Barrow influenced others to get vaccinated saying if the vaccine was going to kill then the president would not still have been alive.
He said Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, and Pfizer are currently available in the country, saying they are planning to embark on another nationwide campaign from 10th to 19th August 2022.
As of 26th July 2022, The Gambia officially registered 368 Covid-19-related deaths and 12,238 positive cases.
This story is produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), in partnership with Kaba Communications and The Standard Newspaper through its Mobilising Media in the Fight COVID-19 (MMFC).