March 30, 2021
By Harold Thomas
In today’s world, it has become apparent that the prerequisite of the hour in winning this fight that has exhausted us economically, socially and emotionally. That assumed, the decision to roll out the vaccination process is a worthy start.
All over the world, there is no clear cut data on the COVID vaccine roll out, simply because it is a new phenomenon. However, a good policy must fulfil certain criteria- it must have lucidity in intentions, planned design, funding and results framework, all in sync.
In Sierra Leone for instance, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s objective of the national vaccination roll out is to stop infections, put in check current transmission and in essence lessen mortality to the barest minimum.
Currently, although there are challenges in COVID vaccination drive, but these are not insurmountable. Central to the realisation of the roll out will be the confidence of people in the vaccines. Of course the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has a strong technical programme (the Expanded Programme on Immunisation) that has been seamlessly handling vaccines and vaccination affairs for a very long time.
It is important in some ways to accentuate that vaccination is just one among other solutions to end COVID-19, since the virus is still metamorphosing. Adopting safe behaviours is also overly important in this arrangement. Sierra Leone can piggyback on its experience in controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Science, evidence based information and data analytics must be prerequisites of the roll out strategy. The essential of the hour is winning this fight that has affected lives and livelihoods for a long time.
The World Health Organisation advisory does not only pinpoint that vaccines save millions of lives each year, but they also condense transmissions. They and other technical agencies like the US CDC are working collectively on trailing the pandemic, recommending on critical interventions and allocating vital medical counter measures to those in need, thus plummeting the number of infected people that pass on the virus.
As a Health Promotion specialist by training and someone who is well grounded in public health, my message to the public is that, vaccines work by preparing and training the body’s natural fortifications — the immune system — to be familiar with and fight off the viruses they target. After the process of complete vaccination, if the body is later exposed, the body is instantaneously ready to destroy the attacking viruses and prevent illness.
In recent times, over six different COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out globally. Susceptible populations in all countries, regions and territories are the uppermost priority for vaccination.
The truth is that, some people may be apprehensive about getting vaccinated now that COVID-19 vaccines are available. As more and more COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as rapidly as possible, routine procedures and processes stay in place to make certain the safety of any vaccine that is sanctioned or approved for use. Safety of the vaccines is a top priority. Conversely, what is not safe is catching COVID and spreading it.
The question everybody is asking for good or bad reasons is: can a COVID-19 vaccine make you sick? The unpretentious response is no, as none of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus.
Drawing from messages communicated by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting the virus.
From what we know about vaccines for other diseases and initial data from clinical trials, scientists believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting severally ill even if you do get the disease and may also protect people around you, especially people at increased risk.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation is still reminding everyone that wearing masks, observing cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing help reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, nevertheless these measures are not enough. The vaccines one more weapon added to our arsenal of weapons in the fight against COVID.
The Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation emphasises that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect against infectious diseases. Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to identify and fight against specific viruses. When you get vaccinated, you are shielding yourself and helping to shield the entire community by reducing the spread of the disease. Attaining herd or social immunity is a long-term objective. It typically necessitates a huge volume of the population to be vaccinated.
From available evidence from the US CDC, people who have previously had COVID-19 or tested positive may still benefit from getting the vaccination. However, there is not sufficient evidence at this time obtainable to say if or for how long people are protected from getting the disease after they have had it (natural immunity). Initial indications proposes natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last for a very long time, but further insights are required to better appreciate this.
It is a known fact that some individuals do not display symptoms. This is why vaccinations are very important. There is usually a common mix-up between pre-symptomatic spread (people who spread the virus before showing signs and symptoms) and asymptomatic spread (spreading the virus by someone who never shows any sign or symptoms). What is vital to appreciate is that every Tom, Dick, and Harry agrees vaccines reduce transmission.
Therefore why wouldn’t you take the vaccine that is verified to be safe?
From the very day of the COVID-19 vaccination was launched in Sierra Leone, we have seen how role modelling has played a substantial part in our work. The first recipient was the first gentleman of the country and this has spoken volumes to the entire population.
As I conclude this piece, let me stress that being less of a risk for COVID would give rise to added freedom even with expressively lower transmissions, particularly when coupled with the proper use of a face covering with at least two layers of protection, social distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette and frequent hand hygiene practices.