J&J COVID Vaccination Begins in Montserrado

Montserrado County Superintendent, Florence Freeman-Brandy

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will today, August 5, 2021, launch the mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Montserrado County following receipt of the Johnson & Jonson (J&J) consignment of vaccines a few days ago.

At a well-attended stakeholders’ conference in Bentol yesterday, Montserrado County Superintendent, Florence Freeman-Brandy, said she was pleased that the Ministry of Health has seen the need to directly involve local government structures in the campaign.

The conference was organized by the Incident Management System (IMS) of the Ministry of Health with the County Health Team (CHT) of Montserrado heading the vaccination campaign.

“The County leadership of Montserrado is grateful to President George Weah for the able leadership that has, in a short time, secured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for our people. Some of us have already taken the Astra-Zenneca version of the vaccine and all we can do now is to form part of the campaign to encourage our people to take the J&J vaccine, which is administered only once,” Mrs. Brandy said.

According to her, a nation can only develop when its population is healthy.

She called on the City Mayors, Commissioners, Statutory District Superintendents as well as town chiefs and all other local structures and organizations in Montserrado to join hands in informing the majority of the people who have not yet taken any vaccine to come out and take their vaccines.

“From the era of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014, it cannot be overemphasized that collaboration among people at all levels of community life pays. We defeated that terrible enemy and we can also defeat COVID-19,” Brandy said confidently.

She added that the central government alone cannot achieve anything unless those who are governed cooperate and work in the best interest of their own country.

Speaking on behalf of the head of the Montserrado County Health Team, Dr. Yatta Wapoe, David S. George, Bentol District Health Officer (DHO), gave the overview of the campaign and elaborated on the expectations of the Ministry of Health through his County Health team for all stakeholders in order for people to turn-out and get vaccinated.

“My boss could have been here, but other pressing engagements did not permit her to come. She is pleased that you are all here and participating meaningfully,” Mr. George told stakeholders gathered in Bentol.

He said community structures are key to the success of any health campaign against a pandemic or an epidemic.

“The surveillance launched with all local structures during the EVD helped us in containing the disease, and we again have the same resilience in our people. Take ownership of the campaign. Encourage people to forget about the many myths that have been tied around the vaccines,” he admonished.

He added that vaccination is not a cure but a preventive measure that helps one survive a disease due to the improvement in the immune system.

Assisting in the provision of more information about the roll-out campaign, Chester Smith, Pillar Lead Communication officer working with the Incident Management System (IMS), said two million, one hundred eleven thousand doses of JNJ vaccine are in the country.

“Only eligible persons will be allowed to take the vaccine. Those who have taken the AstraZeneca should not take the J&J. If you took the first dose of Astra Zenneca but have not taken the second dose, be patient. It will be in the country in less than a week from now,” Smith disclosed.

He added that twenty market places in Montserrado, including the newly built Omega Market, Duala Market the Waterside Market, Jacob Town Market, Gardnesville, Jorkpen Town Market, ELWA Market, and Kuwait Market will be opened to the public as temporary sites for the vaccine.

 Others included are Clara Town, Old Road, Poultry Market (Red Light community), VOA Market, Duport Road Market, Rehab Market, Rally Town, Wroto Town Market, Pepperwood Town Market, Barnesville Market and 72nd Market. 

The Monrovia City Hall, Paynesville City Hall, Barnesville Town Hall, Gardnersville Town Hall, GSA Yard, and Farmington Hotel will also be temporary sites for the administration of the vaccine.

He said ninety-four thousand COVAX doses will also be in the country soon so as to provide several alternatives of vaccines other than AstraZeneca alone.

He joined others in admonishing people across the country to ignore the negative propaganda from critics who have mainly done no research to properly inform anyone.

The JNJ Vaccine is expected to target 2,111,000 persons across the country.

Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah led an array of dignitaries including United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy, Head of Agencies of WHO and UNICEF, senior Government officials, staff form the United Nations family, the International Rescue Committee, Members of the Incident Management System, Montserrado County Health Team and the media giving the first jab of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Monrovia.

Prior to the official launch of the J&J Vaccine, Health Minister Jallah extended thanks to the US Government and all the partners involved in the COVID-19 response efforts, notably, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and GAVI.

Minister Jallah noted that these vaccines will go a long way in boosting the covid-19 vaccination campaign initiated earlier this year by the Ministry of Health and partners.

It may be recalled that Liberia on July 25, 2021 received a donation of 302,400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine from the United States Government through the COVAX facility; a partnership of CEPI, GAVI, UNICEF and WHO to expand the COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country, hoping that more will come to meet the target.

Prior to the arrival of the J&J Vaccine, Liberia in March this year also received 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and so far, over 95,000 doses have been administered. With the arrival of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the country will resume the vaccination campaign on August 5, 2021, simultaneously across Liberia, which has been halted after vaccines previously received were exhausted while cases were surging in June and July.

The J&J vaccine is available for those who have not taken any covid-19 vaccines. J&J is a one-dose vaccine.“All persons, 18 years and above are eligible for the J&J COVID-19 Vaccines. Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers, people with medical conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, etc.) are all welcomed to take the vaccine. The J&J COVID-19 Vaccine is safe, effective, and used worldwide. Importantly, it Keeps you, your family and community safe and helps to prevent more COVID-19 illnesses and deaths, MOH says.