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USAID: Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe

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The newly arrived Country Director for the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) Jim Wright, has assured Liberians the Johnson & Johnson vaccine donated to Liberia by the United States Government is safe.

“Let me be clear: This is a safe vaccine.  U.S. regulators approved the J&J vaccine last February.  Since then, almost 13.5 million Americans have received this very same vaccine, and tens of thousands more are receiving it every day”, Director Wright said when he joined also newly arrived Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Country Director Dr. Rachel Idowu and Liberia’s Foreign Minister Dee Maxwell Kemayah, Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah, along with other dignitaries to kick off the Johnson & Johnson vaccination campaign here Thursday, August 05, 2021.

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The new USIAD boss continued, “If you have questions about it, I urge you to visit the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website—www.CDC.gov—to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.”

A release issued by U.S. Embassy Monrovia says the event, which took place at Paynesville City Hall in the commercial district of Paynesville, also included performances by Cultural Ambassador Juli Endee, COVID-19 testing, and launch of the new digital vaccination tracking system.

Director Wright also applauded the Ministry of Health’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Liberia, especially its commitment to vaccinating the Liberian people: “The decision to send the vaccines to Liberia was due in no small measure to Liberia’s successful handling of the first tranche of vaccines”, he is quoted as saying.

Foreign Minister Kemayah urged Liberians to take advantage of the opportunity to protect themselves and their neighbors stressing, “The more people that take this vaccine, the better it is for our community.”

Health Minister Jallah thanked everyone for doing a good job with COVID-19 spread prevention, especially the increased mask-wearing.

 “What we saw a few weeks ago, we don’t want to see that again” she said and continued, “I want to thank everyone who helped make this donation and vaccine roll-out possible, so we can declare to the world: Liberians are being vaccinated!”

Earlier in a special news conference Wednesday, August 4 2021, at the ministry of information, cultural affairs and tourism on Capitol Hill on the eve of the kick off, Dr. Jallah said in accordance with World Health Organization(WHO’s) benchmark,  Liberia is expected to vaccinate 10 percent of her population by end of September.

She noted that Liberia has made tremendous progress in the fight against the third wave of the COVID-19, bringing the country down to Level 3 from Level4, on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ranking.

“The United States, who before put Liberia at Level 4, has brought us back down to Level 3, and after their 28 days revision, we are hoping to come down again”, Dr. Jallah added.

She disclosed that for the next few days, the vaccination process will focus on people who have not taken any jab at all, adding that if those people are vaccinated, this will help to increase the number of people that have been vaccinated in the Republic of Liberia, while putting total tests already conducted at 146,138.

Also speaking at Wednesday’s news conference, Montserrado County Health Offer Dr. Yatta Sickie Yapoe said, beginning August 05, the Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be situated at 40 health care facilities in Montserrado, including 20 market places with 10 mobile teams visiting communities, churches and government ministries, among others.

She also named temporary sites including the Monrovia City Hall, Paynesville Town Hall, Gardnersville Town Hall, Barnesville Town Hall and APM Terminals’ premises respectively, adding that they intend to put a site at Farmington Hotel in Margibi County as well as.

Among market grounds where the vaccines are expected to be available CHO Yapoe says, include  Red Light Market, Gobachop Market, Jacob Town Market, Redemption Day Market, Gardnersville Market, Jogben Town Market, ELWA, Duala, Clara Town, Poetry Market, VOA Market, Duport Road Market, Rehab, Rally Town, Roto Town Market, Barnesville and 72nd Market, respectively.

She added that all of the health districts in Montserrado County are included, not leaving out Todee district and elsewhere.

Liberians at home are taking the Johnson & Johnson doses for the first time, since it was manufactured in the United States.

The country had received an initial donation of 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jabs (produced in India) thru COVAX earlier this year which was partially administered, due to lack of adequate awareness and failure by authorities at the Ministry of Health to administer second round of doses as scientifically required.

Health Minister Jallah announced that members of the public who took the AstraZeneca vaccines are not allowed to go for the Johnson & Johnson shots.

On July 25, 302,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States via COVAX arrived in Liberia, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s global efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  The U.S. Government coordinated closely with the African Union and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to make the donation possible.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberia-johnson-johnson-jabs-ready/ Editing by Jonathan Browne

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