By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Access to Covid-19 vaccines has been one of the main worries of Liberians and the government and it took the goodwill of the international community and some members of the business community to ensure that the country gets some.
Demand has been strong and there is no dose left, and this is causing fear among tens of thousands of Liberians and foreign residents who took the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Amidst fear amongst these peoples desiring to get their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, health authorities say there is absolutely no side effect in the delay in getting the second shot of the vaccine.
Liberia on March 5, 2021, received 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO. The arrival of the vaccines was described as a historic step towards achieving the goal of equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.
Upon the arrival of the covid-19 vaccine in Liberia, 86,288 persons took the first dose of the jabs while a meager 9,579 have received their second dose.
Many who took the first dose of the vaccine in April and May indicated that their scheduled date for the second jab has since expired with no concrete assurance from Health Authorities in Liberia regarding the availability of the second badge of the AstraZeneca drugs.
This delay is tempting some of these people to think about mix-matching the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines despite warning from Liberian health officials.
Of the 86,288 that took the first dose, 76,769 people are yet to receive their second shot of AstraZeneca according to the ministry of health.
This has since brought the Liberian government under immense tension as it rescheduled the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine nearly five weeks after the first shot, rather than the three-week gap recommended by the C.D.C.
Melvin Jackson, a 28-year-old student of the University of Liberia took his first dose of the AstraZeneca at JDJ hospital in June of this year. But when the time came for his second dose, he could not get it as he was told that the vaccine finish.
By July 26, his schedule has come down a little and he went searching for a second dose of the shot, but then the facility where he took his first dose was short of the vaccine; he could not also find a slot at any other facilities where the vaccine was being administered.
Though Melvin still hopes to eventually get one, he is no longer interested in getting or looking for the second shot.
Kebeh Mulbah, 56, was scheduled to get her two vaccine doses at different AstraZeneca facilities in Monrovia. She said she got her first dose without incident in late June, but was told that the vaccine had finished when she arrived for the second appointment.
Like Melvin and Kebeh, many other citizens also fear their life due to the delay in being vaccinated with their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is eagerly waiting for the arrival of the vaccine in the country.
Eric Filor Nagbe had to travel out of Liberia to get his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Nagbe posted on his official Facebook page days ago, “today, I’ve completed my second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I took my 1st dose in Liberia and since the second was due on July 28 and not available in Liberia, I’ve been able to get it whilst out of Liberia.”
According to research, there are rare cases in which people are supposed to forgo the second shot, such as if they had an allergic reaction after their first shot.
The C.D.C. says there is limited data on the vaccine’s effectiveness when shots are separated by more than six weeks, although some countries, including Britain and Canada, are giving shots with a gap of up to three or four months.
In Arkansas, about 84,000 people have missed their second shots, representing 11 percent of those eligible for those shots Dr. Jennifer Dillaha told the New York Times.
According to the New York Times, in South Caroline, the health system tidelands health started a program specifically for people who received their first Pfizer doses more than 23 days earlier but had not been able to find a second shot. The state health department sent the health system 2,340 doses for that effort.
In the Chicago area, for example, pharmacists at two Walgreens locations said the problem was causing headaches. They said that Walgreens’ appointment system was sending each pharmacy anywhere from 10 to 20 customers a week who need a second Pfizer shot, even though both pharmacies stock only the Moderna vaccine, the New York Times indicated.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through the Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with front Page Africa and the New Republic Newspaper