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COVID-19 vaccine misconception stops many from immunization in Gambia

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The Gambia is currently grappling with a series of misconceptions surrounding the Covid-19 related vaccines especially on social media.

According to some people, the Covid-19 vaccine was introduced to reduce the world population, particularly in Africa.

On the other hand, some people have the concept that the Covid-19 vaccine would lead to infertility in men and thus, reduce production.

Most of the people who spoke to The Point have expressed uncertainty of taking the Covid-19 vaccine due to the numerous misconceptions surrounding the deadly disease.  

According to the 353rd national situation report since the confirmation of the first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in The Gambia, on the 16th March 2020, nine new COVID-19-related deaths were registered, bringing the total number of deaths since March 2020 to 254.

 “The decedent’s age ranged from 50-87 years old and all had severe COVID-19 pneumonia with comorbidities. All were admitted in the COVID 19 treatment centre,” it stated.

The report further said 157 new cases were registered taking the total number of COVID-19 cases ever confirmed in the country to 8,920 and 91 and 66 cases were reported on the 5th and 6th. Of the 121 cases with known reasons for testing, 81 (67%) tested for travelling, 23(19%) for suspicion of COVID-19 after being sick, 5 (4%) contracts with a confirmed case and 8 (7%) wanted to know their COVID 19 status.

 “The cases are composed of 86 males and 69 females with a median age of 39 years range 86 years,” it added.

 The report also said a total of 1,003 new laboratory test results were received and out of this figure, 157 tested positive representing 15.7 % test positivity rate.

“Firstly, I do not believe in the existence of the Covid-19 and there are many speculations surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine that are not good. Many are saying America is selling the vaccine which is not very effective,” said Fatou Laye, resident of Farato.

Ms. Laye, who expressed dislike of taking the Covid-19 vaccine, further said she believed that the vaccine could cause health complications to people.

“The Covid-19 vaccine will reduce fertility rate as well shorten the lifespan of humans,” she claimed. 

The latest Covid-19 report from the Health Ministry said 9 new COVID-19-related deaths have been registered, bringing the total number of deaths since March 2020 to 254.

However, Ms Laye maintained that she never saw any person known to her died of the Covid-19 or taken to quarantine due to the deadly disease.

Ebrima Jallow, a vendor at the Serekunda Market also expressed uncertainty of taking part in the immunization as a result of the series of misconceptions surrounding the vaccination.  

“I will not take the vaccination at this moment because there are many speculations. Some people have said it shortens people’s lives and I do not want to be affected by such. Now, I will wait until later to decide my faith in the vaccination,” he said.

The 353rd Covid-19 national situation report indicated as of 8th August, 108,856 and 3,844 people received their single dose of Janssen & Janssen and 1st dose of Sinopharm vaccine respectively.

Jallow added that if his neighbours take the vaccine he will also endeavour to rush to the closest health facility to be vaccinated, adding “If my neighbours do not take the vaccine. I will not take it.”

On March 10, 2021 The Gambia government launched the COVAX Vaccination in State House marking the first Covid-19 vaccine in the country since the pandemic hit the West African tiny nation on March 16 2020.

However, shortly after the launching of COVAX Vaccination, President Adama Barrow called on the public to comply with Covid-19 regulations and take the vaccine in order to help in containing the virus in the country.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Honourable Dawda A. Jallow , who also took the jab in the same ceremony, said the vaccination process was pain free. He further encouraged Gambians to follow a recommendation of the Health Ministry.

“My experience in taking the jab was pain free. In fact before I realised what was going on, I heard the nurse administering the injection,” he said.

Mr. Jallow encouraged people to comply with the Covid-19 regulations and said the vaccine is safe and effective.

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