There are various vaccines developed purposely for the fight against COVID-19. The Gambia has begun its national rollout with the AstraZeneca Vaccine under the COVAX facility. It caters for 36,000 doses to the frontline health workers, the security personnel and people with underlying conditions. The second consignment of 100,000 more will follow suit in the next couple of months.
Dr Desta Tiruneh, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in The Gambia, has said that The Gambia will stick to two types of vaccines: the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. “The next vaccine we will try is Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine”, the WHO official told The Chronicle.
The Gambia hopes to widen the outreach of the rollout as more vaccines arrive in the country. The Minister of Health, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said, “As we get more vaccines, the campaign could be expanded to include other segments of the population”.
Dr Samateh added that the vaccination will be decentralised and every single Gambian will be vaccinated immediately after receiving the rest of the vaccines due in a few months.
The World Bank has provided resources to procure up to forty per cent (40%) of the country vaccine requirement. It will complement the twenty per cent (20%) already secured through the Covax arrangement.
About the perceptions, Dr Desta assured Gambians that the vaccination is, at this moment, the best way to protect everyone from contracting the COVID-19 virus. He added that the vaccine protection stands for 3 months, and sometimes more, for people that never contracted the virus. The protection may reach 6 months and more for people who were affected but recovered from the virus. “Even if you take the vaccine, you still have to wear a face mask, wash your hands and exercise social distancing, among other WHO health guidelines”.
Meanwhile, the Government is working with other partners, such as MRC Gambia and Africa Centre for Disease Control, to secure additional doses to meet the estimated national requirements.