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The President of The Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency (HE) Adama Barrow was the first to take the COVID-19 vaccine, launching the COVAX Vaccination rollout at the Statehouse in Banjul on 10th March 2021. This followed the arrival of 36,000 doses of Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccines under the COVAX facility, which aims to make available vaccines for low and middle income countries. Adama Barrow was broadcast live whilst being vaccinated. The government aims to inform its population that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in the fight against COVID-19. The president addressed the COVID-19 vaccine safety concerns. HE Adama Barrow said, “It is a relief, therefore, that suitable vaccines have been discovered, tested and approved by reliable experts. I am sure all of us wish that the vaccines were discovered earlier to save more lives,’’ said the president. The president expressed his gratitude to the COVAX Facility. “Thankfully, the Gambia has received thirty-six thousand (36,000) doses of AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX package. This is remarkable!” added the president. Health Minister, Hon. Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh also got vaccinated the same day with the president. He commended the COVAX facility for its effort to provide vaccines to cater for 20% of The Gambia’s population. “This is a historic and momentous occasion for The Gambia,” said Hon. Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh. The first consignment of the vaccines will be prioritised for health workers, people with chronic condition and those aged 65 years and above to minimise the severity of the condition if they become exposed to COVID-19 virus. The WHO Representative thanked the donors who pulled resources together to make COVAX Facility a dream come true. He also saluted the health workers who continue to work against COVID-19. “On behalf of WHO and COVAX partners, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to all donors for putting their money and trust in the COVAX Facility,’’ said Dr Tiruneh. “We are greatly indebted to health workers, who have always been and still are in the fore front in the fight against COVID-19,” added Dr Tiruneh. Other high ranking officials were vaccinated on the day including the Vice President of The Gambia- Dr Isatou Touray, members of the national assembly, cabinet ministers, national COVID-19 coordinator, leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council and Christian community in The Gambia, and high government officials from different ministries. Primarily, citizens are urged not to sorely rely on vaccines. The vaccines are not sufficient to contain transmission of COVID-19. Time tested basic public health measures such as wearing of facemasks, physical distancing and hand hygiene should still be maintained at all times.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.Media filesDownload logo