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Confirmation of New Cases of Covid-19 in Nimba County Sparks Calls for More Vaccine Uptake

Nimba County – The recording of 37 new cases of COVID-19 last week in Nimba County has heightened calls by many community members for more people in the county to get vaccinated.

Report By: Joseph Solo | Inspires Health Reporting Fellow

Last week, the County Health Officer, Dr. Nettie Joe, disclosed that 37 persons have tested positive for the virus, adding that those tested positive are residents of communities along the Liberia-Cote D’Ivoire borders.

That disclosure attracted a lot of attention in the county with several people phoning-in on a live radio show to show their support for the upcoming vaccination rollout across the county.

Several persons, who participated in the radio discussion, said the confirmation of new cases should be a good reason for people to go for the vaccine.

Johnson Tuoh is a local farmer in Behplay, Nimba County Electoral District four who is afraid that if people don’t take the vaccine seriously, several more people might contract the virus.

“Nimba County borders Liberia with Cote D’Ivoire at different districts. For example, in district four, here, there are so many areas to pass to go to Cote D’Ivoire or enter Liberia from Cote D’Ivoire,” explains Touh, a father of seven — who is a local farmer.

“The same thing applies to districts three, five and six. We can not stop our people from traveling across the borders. What we can do is massively campaign for everyone to go and get the vaccine”.

Touh adds, “if everyone takes the vaccine the risks of infection will reduce”. He has already planned to get vaccinated once the rollout begins.

“For me, my family and I will go to Karnplay to take our vaccine when they bring it to our District,”, he said.

Beatrice Dolo, a marketer who resides in Sehyikempa — community about five kilometers away from Sanniquellie city – is also ready for the vaccine.

Dolo, who also phone in on the radio show, is cautious that because she must interact with wide range of people daily, so getting vaccinated is the surest way of being protected.

“We that sell in the market are seriously at risk,” she said. “For me, I will take the vaccine and I’ll make sure my children also take the vaccine. Thank God my children are above 18yrs… I will make sure they take the vaccine,” she said.

She said her four children, who attend school in Sanniquellie and always go back home to mingle with the rest of the family, will be safer if they are immunized.

“I will pay serious attention to my children when we start taking the vaccine. I will do so because they can meet plenty people and we do not know their health status. And so, if my children get vaccinated, the risk of them being infected will reduce,” she said.

Community health volunteers say vaccine hesitancy is gradually reducing in many communities of Nimba County | Photo By: Jospeh Solo, Jr.

Health authority earlier announced September 2 as the date to start the rollout, but they had to push to September 7. Although the County Health Team blamed the postponement of the vaccine rollout on logistical and financial setback, most of the callers reckoned that the move to postpone the rollout was necessary.

Meanwhile, social mobilization is underway targeting community dwellers about the importance of the vaccine and where to get the jab. Many resident said with progress of the ongoing awareness in their respective communities, denial will gradually be an issue of the past. Some said they are now getting a clearer insight about the intent of the vaccination campaign.

Junior Tokpaquoi, a community health assistant assigned in Gbadein Camp Three — a farming community along the Ganta-Sanniquellie highway, said the awareness message is resonating well among the people.

Speaking from his assigned community via mobile phone, Tokpaguoi disclosed that vaccine hesitancy among the population is reducing, adding that “most of the people we talking to me are expressing eagerness to get the vaccine”.

“One story I always give to them is my own experience with the vaccine,” “I always showed them my vaccine card and told them that the vaccine is not harmful because since I took the vaccine the typhoid fever that was bordering me has disappeared. I no longer feel the typhoid fever. So, the vaccine can do more than protecting people against the COVID-19.”

Ophelia Woods, Head of the vaccination campaign, recently disclosed that the county received over 40,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines and almost 5,000 doses Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We will be targeting 25 facilities, but all of those facilities will be accessible to the entire population in their respective localities,” Woods said.

“For example, Sanniquellie Health District is one of the largest in the county. Therefore, we will be targeting six health facilities in Sanniquellie while the smaller districts will have four facilities each, but there will be temporary sites for bigger communities during the first five days of the campaign”.

Mobile teams will be dispatched to large institutions and corporations to vaccinate more people at worksites, she said; adding that this will allow for people who are willing to take the vaccine but are unable to travel to the center to their jab.

Local Voices Liberia is a network of dedicated Liberian journalists based in the 15 counties working to lift the development concerns and progress of rural communities.

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