By Awa Macalo
It is no secret that billions of lives continue to bear the harsh impact of Covid-19 across the globe. This has led to the spread of misinformation especially on social media, giving rise to myths and misconceptions about the virus and eventually, the vaccines that are developed to fight the virus.
The world came to a standstill after the emergence of the virus in 2019. Lives and livelihoods were destroyed, hope was lost before vaccines were developed to put an end to the brutal storm of the virus that led to the death of billions of people; socioeconomic impacts that forever changed the way life was known on earth.
However, despite the availability of vaccines, challenges still remain as people in the low-income country battle with both myths and misinformation surrounding the vaccine, hence affecting vaccine roll out.
The Gambia, like many other underdeveloped countries, continues to struggle with the myth and misconceptions. Some people are of the opinion that Covid-19 vaccines are dangerous, and are capable of altering a person’s DNA. This, amongst other speculations, is affecting the vaccine rollout in many communities in The Gambia. However, some of the people that spoke to this medium, ridicule all of these misconceptions.
“I have been vaccinated and have not experienced any of the misconceptions or myths that people say. Since the vaccination, I have not been sick as I used to be. No flu and no unnecessary sickness.” Said Vivian Adams, a university student and the proprietor of UOTAF Pastry. She also added that the government needs to sensitise the public so as to raise awareness on the importance of the vaccine and erase the myths attached to it.
Sarjo Touray also has received his vaccination. He said the motive is always to protect himself and the family.
“I believe that the 21st generation is driven by conventional medicine and practice. If they declared and consent to a vaccine I trust and have confidence in us despite all myths.
The Government has tried but is not currently doing well since mid 2021 on sensitisation on covid and its vaccines which needs to improve” he said.
The vaccine availability was made public since the donation of the first and second tranche of covid-19 vaccine in The Gambia.
The Minister of Health Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, urged the public “…to take this opportunity to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and help the country rise above the pandemic.”
Gibril Gando Baldeh, a senior health communications officer at the Ministry of Health
Explained that the vaccine can prevent signs and symptoms of covid virus. He also emphasised on the importance of taking both jabs as it makes the fight of covid easy.
“Everyone knows that vaccines have contributed immensely towards the eradication of several viruses in The Gambia and therefore I urge the entire public to take the opportunity of this nationwide vaccination campaign seriously and get vaccinated.” He said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of the 22nd of May 2022, almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population – almost all of them high-income countries.
WHO further explained that Vaccine supply has improved, but absorption has not kept pace. In some countries, there is insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines. This was impacted by the initial lack of political commitment for equitable access to vaccines. In some, the gaps in operational or financial capacity. And in all, vaccine hesitancy is driven by misinformation and disinformation.