In June, there was a public outcry about the shortage of vaccines in the country. There were constant calls for the government to ensure that vaccines were available sufficiently.
It was not long when the Ministry of Health received 302,400 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the United States government to get more people vaccinated. And on August 29, Liberia also received another 96,000 doses of AstraZeneca.
The Minister of Health said individuals waiting for their second dose would be prioritized while calling on people who have not taken any to opt for the J&J. As calls for more people to get vaccinated intensify, the Director of the General Service Agency (GSA) Director, Madam Mary T. Broh, has launched a strategy to convince more people to get vaccinated.
Unlike other vaccination centers where there is no special preference for senior citizens, the GSA vaccine center does give preferential treatment. Pregnant women, the elderly (senior citizens), and people with disabilities do not have to get in the queue. Once they arrive at the center, they get their jab in a couple of minutes. The vaccines are administered by the staff of the Ministry of Health but the GSA supervises the process.
"When you come in, you tell us whether you were vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and when we know that you are here for the second dose, we get your details and register you and then you go and get your final dose,” Madam Broh explains.
“We take you to the observation area for 5 to 10 minutes, then we certify you and you take your certificate with you."
Certificates given to fully vaccinated people is the GSA’s own initiative to keep track of those who have been vaccinated,” the GSA boss disclosed, adding, "I set up my own IT section that is giving certificates to people.”
In addition to the expedited service, the center serves its guests -- who are there to get vaccinated and have not eaten – with a hot meal. An average of 300 to 350 people visit the center daily.
"We advise that you don’t take the vaccine on an empty stomach. We give them tea and bread or whatever and by 4 p.m. we are closed,” Madam Broh said, noting that the strategy is geared towards convincing people to get vaccinated.
Broh herself has experienced the raft of the virus but recalls that she quickly recuperated because she was already fully vaccinated.
"For example, I was exposed to the COVID-19 virus, but I was safe because I took the vaccine April 29, 2021, and by June 12, 2021, I was tested positive,” she recounted. “But it didn’t land heavily the way it normally does when you have not taken the vaccine. I was able to treat it. I didn’t go to the Star Base or any treatment unit.”
Madam Felecia Veronica Coleman, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who had just completed her second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, rated the GSA Vaccination Center as the “most organized and professional” center in the country.
“I advise people to come to GSA,” Madam Coleman said. “This is the most organized and professional site I have seen; they give preference to senior citizens, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.”
In one incident witnessed by this reporter, a senior citizen, who was unable to walk to the center, was later vaccinated while she sat in her parked car. Madam Coleman’s friend, Madam Nadu Cooper, who had praised Madam Broh for the efficiency of the center, added: “They have gone to my friend’s car who is a senior citizen to get her details and her vaccination was administered right in her car instead of coming down to walk and sit in line.”
Madam Cooper is also aware of the health benefits of being vaccinated. “If you give birth to your child and you carry them for the nine months vaccine, they can be prevented from so many illnesses, but those that refuse to carry their children can be exposed. People shouldn’t be afraid to take the vaccine because it is good and safe for people.”
Like Madam Cooper, the GSA Director also warned “Those spreading misinformation about the vaccines” to desist. She said that the coronavirus pandemic should be treated with seriousness, adding, “We need to believe and stop the conspiracy theory."
Another admirer of Madam Broh, Robert Miller, said the GSA vaccination center supervisor, from August 5 to September 5, 700 people have been certificated by the GSA after taking their final dose of the AstraZeneca or the single of the J&J dose.
Many people, especially the elderly and working-class, are trooping daily to the center to get their shot. Upon arrival in the GSA compound, you will be intersected by either a vaccinator or Madam Broh to ask why and what the person came for. This, perhaps, has attracted more people to the area and has contributed to the huge number in one month.