By Nelson Manneh & Ndey Sowe
Gambian health authorities have on Friday, 17 December, 2021 informed the media that about eighty thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccines are about to expire.
The Ministry of Health through the covax facility and other international donors received about three hundred thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 has brought an unprecedented life and new way of global health challenges throughout the world overwhelming health systems and disrupting all aspects of life and services throughout the world.
Gambian health authorities after receiving COVID-19 vaccines from Covax targeted to vaccinate at least 20% of the population, which is about 487,780 people.
The allocation, according to health officers, would have enabled the vaccination of people aged 41 and above, including priority groups summing up to 487,780 based on projected population census 2013.
Sidat Fofana, the Program Manager of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), said The Gambia used to be one of the outstanding countries when it comes to immunisation and that Gambians respond well when it comes to vaccination. However, he also added that with COVID-19 vaccination, the story is different.
He said up to date, the health authorities cannot vaccinate the targeted number of Gambians they want to vaccinate against the deadly diseases.
“We are now launching a door-to-door mass vaccination campaign in order to make sure that Gambians are vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said.
The health expert said close to 80,000 COVID-19 vaccines will expire in the next two weeks if not received by the people, adding that the expired vaccines will be thrown away because they will not be useful anymore.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are very expensive. The Gambia as a country, if there were no assistance from the international countries and the covax facility, we would not be able to acquire the vaccines in town,” he said.
He said the campaign they are about to launch is not initiated because the vaccines are about to expire, but they want Gambians to be vaccinated against the deadly virus as the disease is ravaging people in other parts of the world.
With the discovery of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, the health expert said the health system has put measures in place to protect the diseases from entering the country. He said his colleagues at the lab are monitoring the system in order to ensure that anybody found to contract the ‘Omicron variant’, will be prevented from spreading it.