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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination in Gambia: Journalists are frontliners too

The Gambia set the ball rolling with nationwide vaccination on Wednesday, March 10th 2021 after the president and his vice received the first jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine at State House.

The brief launch kicked off a massive campaign to rid the country of the deadly coronavirus which has held the world at ransom for the last 12 months.

The Ministry of Health had announced that the first tranche of 37000 doses arrived, while expecting more doses. It also said it had already devised a comprehensive national programme for vaccination while disclosing that Covid-19 frontline workers, people over 60 years old and those with underlying health conditions would be given priority.

However, 14 days since the national launch, and having seen doses handed to different people who cheerfully spread pictures of the syringes online, Gambian journalists have yet to be given priority.

Like health professionals, security persons and many others, a number of Gambian journalists have also contracted the virus and risked their lives on the line of duty to keep the public informed.

Like all other essential services, media houses also remained open during the whole pandemic, from the confirmation of the first case in March 2020 when daily Covid briefings were happening to now, Gambian journalists have always been frontliners. Therefore, in our opinion, Gambian journalists should have been included in the earliest groups of people to be given the Covid-19 vaccine based on the nature of our job.

Last year was difficult for everyone. But during those difficult times, we were there and we made sure the public—who were confined in their homes—got accurate information about the virus. When the nights were pitch dark, we joined patrol teams to monitor and report on curfew and other regulations put in place to curb the spread of the virus. So, yes, we deserve to be prioritized.

We cannot ascertain how many doses are already in, apart from the initial arrivals but, regardless, a few hundred doses should have been handed to the Gambia Press Union for onward distribution to media houses. Is that too much to ask?

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