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AstraZeneca vaccines launch a milestone for Liberia’s health sector

-Liberia’s Health Minister Jallah

It was quite a joyous moment here when health officials, dignitaries, including members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the 54th Liberia Legislature in collaboration with development partners launched the AstraZeneca vaccination campaign.

The nationwide immunization campaign was formally launched last Thursday at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.

Performing the launch on behalf of the government, Liberia’s Minister of Health Dr. Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah described the occasion as a great achievement for government, and a milestone in the health sector of the country.

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Following a total shipment of 123,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines thru the COVAX Initiative, a partnership with WHO, CDC, UNICEF, USAID, AU, GAVI, and an additional 27, 000 doses from MTN groups, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health, WHO, CDC, UNICEF and others called on citizens to embrace the immunization campaign for the good of the country.

According to Dr. Jallah, the world is in the midst of the pandemic, and as such, the government, through the Ministry of Health and partners has been working collaboratively on the response – tracking the virus, advising on critical interventions, distributing preventive COVID-19 medical supplies to various health facilities in order to minimize widespread of the virus.

“I’m aware of the mixed feelings people are having towards the launch of this vaccines, but it’s about time that we put our mixed feelings aside and embrace this vaccines”, the Minister rallied the population.

She said the benefit of the AstraZeneca vaccines has outweighed its risks, noting that it is a critical new tool in the battle against the virus.

“We are confident to say that the Vaccines are safe and I’m encouraging Liberians from all walks of life to be vaccinated because all of the Vaccines were tested in state of the art laboratories,” she noted, saying, it has been tried in thousands of renowned clinics and approved by W.H.O.

“Besides, these same vaccines are being administered all over the world, including countries in Africa like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Morocco, etc”, Dr. Jallah said.

She explained the vaccine is voluntary and free, and category of people tro be vaccinated include health care workers, government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, police, soldiers, and marketers, including people with cold mobility, among others.

Doctor Jallah named eight health centers where the vaccines can be taken both private and public, including JFK, Redemption Hospital, JDJ, and the 14th Military Hospital; the rest include St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, ELWA, SOS, and UN clinics.

According to her, the roll out will be administered to other counties, assuring the public that “once you take the first dose, we guarantee you of taking the second dose.”

On behalf of Liberian Senate, Grand Kru County Senator Numeni Bartekwa extolled health authorities and partners for officially launching the AstraZeneca immunization vaccines.

He recalled the disaster caused by the deadly Ebola virus, in 2014 and said the tireless efforts made by health authorities in collaboration with partners, saved Liberia, while calling on citizens to embrace the Astra Zeneca vaccines and continue to adhere to the health protocols.

He said the legislature is concern, especially when the people “we look up to for assistance were on their knees than we wonder what would have happened, again the leadership of the Senate has asked me to convey it’s heartfelt sentiments to all of the partners for standing with Liberia in these critical times.”

Meanwhile, the Country Representative of WHO Doctor Peter Clement, said the launch was a historical day for Liberia, noting that getting vaccinated means a lot to not single group, but for every citizen across the country.

“Today millions of vaccines have been deployed, and many have also taken it, and I’m calling on Liberians to see these vaccines as an opportunity to save this country”, Doctor Clement said.

At the same time, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, on behalf of President Weah thanked health authorities and development partners for their continuous support to Liberia. He described the launch as a milestone for a country like Liberia, which he noted, is grabbling with lot of issues.

“We strongly believe at this time the receipt of this great donation will help us not just in dealing with this virus that has taken so many lives, but to give a sense that we need as a nation to focus on the safety of our people”, the MICAT boss concluded.

By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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