-- COVID vaccine drive experiences hiccup in rural Montserrado
The commissioner of Tolberta Township in Todee District #1, Montserrado County, has expressed disappointment in the Ministry of Health for vaccinating residents without issuing them a code to show as proof that they have been vaccinated.
“The ministry of Health brought vaccines here, called J&J, which our citizens took but the unfortunate part is that MOH said they were going to give us a code or give us a certificate. But since we took the vaccine, we have not received a code or certificate; so our fear is what will be our evidence when we tell people that we have taken the vaccines?” Commissioner Daniel S.K Pabie narrated.
In an interview with the Daily Observer, Pabie said the ministry promised to give their vaccination certificates to the District Health Officer (DHO) but the DHO has informed him (Pabie) that the certificate is being processed by the ministry.
According to him, people are now beginning to fear that the vaccine is meaningless because they do not have anything to show as proof that they have been vaccinated. “They (MOH) didn’t give us anything. We only took the vaccine and they promised to send our code through the District Health Officer,” he added
Pabie narrated that since the revised health protocol was issued by the Ministry of Health, citizens have been following the rules and making sure that they wear their masks, social distance, and avoid crowded places. Stephen M.T. Lamah, Todee District Health Officer assigned at the Nyehn Health Center, blamed it on the lack of smartphones and internet services in the area. People are unable to get their cards because most of them do not have access to smartphones and internet services in the area.
He explained that the vaccination exercise was conducted for 10 days, during which many people turned out, but their only challenge is the issuance of vaccination cards. “They need an evidence base for the vaccine,” Lamah said. “For instance, I have taken my vaccine and I need proof that I have taken the vaccine. Like myself, I took the J&J. I have my card. We received the J&J vaccines and we had a huge turnout with community dwellers coming in and they took their vaccines, but the only issue about this area is because, one way or the other, there is the network problem and most of them who took the vaccine do not have smartphones to get their results. So, it is posing a lot of challenges to the district health team.”
Unlike the AstraZeneca vaccine that is given along with a blue card to prove that one has been vaccinated, the J&J vaccine certificate is given through digital procedure, meaning that after being vaccinated, the certificate comes right to the email address provided by the vaccinated person, who can then print it out. But for Todee, a rural area where access to smartphones or Internet services are scarce, the inhabitants feel at a loss.
“But one may ask those vaccinated if their details were taken, because a vaccinator must request names, address, date of birth, contact information, among others, before giving the shot. How will the ministry vaccinate people without letting them know that they will have to print their certificate without considering the lack of internet services in the area?”
According to the District Health Officer, about 300 to 400 persons were vaccinated in the district. “Within 10 days, people have taken the vaccine and they are still looking up to us to get their card,” he said