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Low awareness on Covid-19 vaccination common among Gambian women

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By Olimatou Coker

As the issue of low level of awareness on the Covid-19 immunisation is more common in women in The Gambia, health officals across The Gambia have urged women to get Covid-19 vaccination to prevet themseleves from the deadly virus.

The officials said they have confronted hesitancy among those of childbearing age.

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Rumors also swirled that the vaccine was designed to control the continent’s birth rate. However the ministry said they are doing  every effort to create more awaress to the masses to get vaccine for self protection.

Spaking to The Standard, Bintou Jassey, 53, is’nt willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. She said her husband died a decade ago, leaving her alone to provide for her seven children and three grandchilden.

“If I take the vaccine and can’t move again, what will I do? I have no one to help me, that is what I am scared of.”

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Isatou Ceesay, who is yet to be vaccinated, said they heard that if women take the vaccine is difficult for them to give birth because the vaccine was introduced in Africa so as to reduce the population of Africans which she strongly believes in.

Lamin Drammeh said he is not conviced to accept the vaccine. “As the breadwinner of my family, I can’t efford to miss a day of work if the side effects such as fatigue and fever affect me”.

He also said it is believed that the shot could stop his blood from flowing.

Ndey Sira Jallow: “Based on the information I am hearing about this vaccine, I can’t risk my life for anything”.

She added that she heard the vaccine can cause bloodcot too.

Health officials have made strides getteing Gambian women vaccinated. They now make up about 53% of those who have the jabs, up to several percentage points from just a few months ago.

Saikou Jabbie said his reason for not taking the jab is it makes men impotent.

“I am so scared of that and you can be vaccinated and yet get the virus. So taking it has no use.”

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 the severe condition of the virus when one acquires it.

“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 below 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 vaccines were going to kill then the president would not still have been alive.

He added that people have been reluctant to get vaccinated and some are still reluctant because of the initial stage of the development of the vaccines. “There were rumors that if you take the vaccine you will die or become impotent. Some also believed that they are trying to reduce our population and convincing some to get vaccinated a challenge but when we started with the President, it convinced some to come forward. The vaccines are meant to protect people and the ministry of health and the government of the Gambia would not bring anything that will harm its population.”

This story is produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) in partnership with Kaba communication and The Standard through its mobilizing media in the fight Covid-19 (MMFC).

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