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Gambians hail Covid-19 vaccines as “effective” as health ministry struggles to meet target

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By Olimatou Corker

Gambians from all walks of life who have taken the Covid-19 vaccines said it is effective as the Ministry of Health gathers efforts to vaccinate 70% of the population.

According to the Ministry of Health, a total number of 354k Gambians are fully vaccinated including the head of state who took the Covid-19 vaccination, which means 14.7% of the Gambian population have taken vaccines to reduce the rate of cases in the country.

Speaking to The Standard, Fatoumatta Jallow, a native of Bakau who took the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, described it as “very effective.”

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“At some point, I felt that I had Covid-19 because I could feel that my system was so weak that I couldn’t do anything. But when I took the vaccine, I felt like I am back to life because it got rid of all the bad feelings.”


Babucarr Cham, who took AstraZeneca, said: “There were so many misconceptions about these vaccines that I was so scared of taking it at the initial stage,  but when I took it, I was the very person convincing people to get vaccinated for safety purpose and others around us,” he said.

Fatou Kebbeh of Sukuta, who took the Sinopham vaccine, urged the general public not to listen to the misconceptions about the vaccines but to prevent themselves and others living with them since Covid-19 is a killer disease.

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Bintou Drammeh of New Yundum, also said: “When I was tested Covid-19 positive, I was so scared. I thought I was going to die because of how I was feeling. After taking this vaccine, I am finally back on my feet.”

She added that the importance of the vaccine cannot be over-emphasized.

She also thanked the government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Health for providing the shots.

The first case of Covid-19 in The Gambia was reported in March 2020.

As of 26th July 2022, The Gambia officially registered 368 Covid-19-related deaths and 12,078 positive cases.

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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 prevents several conditions of the virus when one contracts it.

He said they have not done a study to conclude 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.”

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.

“Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, and Pfizer are currently available in the country,” he revealed, saying they are planning to embark on another nationwide campaign from 10th to 19th August 2022.

As Covid-19 vaccination begins in The Gambia on 10th March 2021, the president of The Gambia Adama Barrow was the first to take his first jab. “This is the final solution”, the head of state had said as he took the shot at the State House.

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