COVID-19 Vaccines Message From Mr. Adolphus Clarke Program Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunization, MOH

April 8, 2021—As a public health response strategy, the Ministry of Health (MOH) wrote for both ethical and regulatory approvals through the National Research Ethics Board of Liberia (NREB) and the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) based on an official request by the Ministry of Health (MoH). They make sure that individual who agree to take the vaccine are protected from the harmful effects of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19).  If you wish to find about more about the vaccination exercise in Liberia, please call Adolphus Trokon Clarke, Director, Expanded Programme on Immunization on +231777024582 / +231886560846

Introduction

We are vaccinators and health workers, working with the Ministry of Health.

We are inviting you to take part in this vaccination response. We had a meeting with community leaders and members and told them about this vaccination exercise. You do not have to decide today about taking part. You can talk about it first with your friends, family, elders or the vaccination team before reaching your decision.

If you are pregnant and decide to be vaccinated, please consult with your physician.  If you do not wish to take part, even if your physician agrees, we will not vaccinate you. You can agree to receive the vaccine by signing your name or providing a thumbprint on the consent/assent form. We ask for your agreement but will also ask for the agreement of your physician.

Additionally, if you are above 18 years and decided to receive the vaccine, please consult with your parent or guardian.  If you do not wish to take part, even if your parent agrees, we will not vaccinate you. You can agree to receive the vaccine by signing your name or providing a thumbprint on the consent/assent form. We ask for your agreement but will also ask for the agreement of your parent or guardian before you can take part.

To help you to decide, first we will explain what is involved. Please ask if you do not understand. If you have questions later, you can also contact us.

What is Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)?

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.  WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China. The COVID-19 is the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. This is severe disease caused by a small organism which is not visible, called a virus. The community has likely already discussed this with you.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:

  • Loss of taste or smell,
  • Nasal congestion,
  • Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
  • Sore throat,
  • Headache,
  • Muscle or joint pain,
  • Different types of skin rash,
  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Chills or dizziness.

Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 disease include:

  • Shortness of breath,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Confusion,
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
  • High temperature (above 38 °C).

Other less common symptoms are:

  • Irritability,
  • Confusion,
  • Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures),
  • Anxiety,
  • Depression,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • More severe and rare neurological complications such as strokes, brain inflammation, delirium and nerve damage.

People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your health care provider, hotline or health facility first, so you can be directed to the right clinic.

What is the purpose of this vaccine? Many cases of coronavirus (covid-19) have been confirmed in Liberia. You have been approached for vaccine because of the risk of contracting the disease, your residence, work, or other possible contacts with a confirmed case. This public health response uses four delivery strategies (Fixed, Temporary, Outreach and Mobile) to vaccinate segment of the population in the following categories:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Elderly (60+)
  • People with underlining health conditions
  • Others (i.e., people would cannot physically or socially distance given the work or tasks being performed

The vaccine was tested in more than 10 000 persons in several countries in Europe, Africa and the United States and was found to be safe for use. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the vaccine is safe and that its benefits outweigh the risk.

What is the procedure for receiving vaccine? A qualified vaccinator/health worker will speak with you to see if you meet the conditions to be vaccinated. Before the vaccination process, a psychosocial counsellor will explain to you the important benefits associated with the vaccine and its side effects.

At the vaccination visit, a clean needle and syringe will be used to give one dose of a vaccine into the upper part of your arm. After vaccination, we will observe you for 30 minutes for any problems.

If you feel sick after the vaccination, please call the hotline number 4455 or you can call this number (0777024582) we will provide you for an on-call doctor available 24 hours.

Because we are not completely sure that the vaccine will protect you from Ebola it is very important that you try to stay away from being infected with Ebola. So, do not do the following things: touching body fluids (blood, vomit, saliva, urine and faeces), stay in direct physical contact with bodies of patients (dead or alive), touch the bedsheets, cloth, clothes, meal plates, or share bed and/or dishes of a sick person.

Can I choose not to take the vaccine? Yes. The choice is yours.  Whether you choose to say “yes” or “no” is up to you and your rights will be respected. 

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

The vaccine is against COVID-19 and cannot cause COVID-19. However, some people that get the vaccine might already have been infected with COVID-19. They might develop signs of COVID-19 after they have been given the anti-COVID-19 vaccine.  For them the vaccine did not give protection.

What happen to people who get COVID-19?

Among those who develop symptoms, most (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become critically ill and need intensive care.

Complications leading to death may include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys.

In rare situations, children can develop a severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection.

How many people will be given this vaccine?

We currently hoping to vaccinate in phases about 52% of our total population so that we can achieve herd immunity. We will aim to vaccinate those persons to help prevent COVID-19, and then we will also aim to vaccinate everyone in the target group, to prevent further spread of the disease in addition to the current IPC measures. Anyone 18 years and above can be considered for vaccination.

What are the possible side effects of the vaccine? Receiving the injection might hurt a little. You will feel a pinch with the needle. It can make your arm to have slight muscle aches. It might also make you feel pain at the injection site, give you a little fever (mild high temperature of about 37.8⁰C), swelling, or bruising at the injection site. This should not last too long. You may have redness or bruising where you got the shot for a few days, and there is a very small chance of infection at that spot. You might not feel any of these things. Since this is still an investigational vaccine it may cause other changes that may hurt or bother you that we do not know about.

People can have allergic reactions to vaccines, including hives, trouble breathing, or other allergic responses. This is very rare, but is also a possible effect of these vaccines. There may be other side effects that may be severe or life threatening.

If you have a fever, doctors can test to see if you have COVID-19 or something else, and give you treatment if needed. If you get a fever after receiving vaccine, you should immediately contact the contact tracing and/or the telephone numbers provided.

NCHP Completes Validation Meeting In Buchannan

As the trumpet for the provision of quality health service delivery continue to be sounded in the Liberian health sector, stakeholders in the later inclusive of local and international partners have concluded another validation meeting to ensuring that a national document is validated.

The three-day meeting placed emphasis on Report of the National Community Health Assistant Program Comprehensive Desk Review, Report of the Community Health Promoter Pilot and adaptation of the World Health Organization New Guidelines for Optimizing CHWs program.

The first stakeholders’ engagement meeting leading to the formulation of seven (7) thematic groupings was held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Careysburg, Lower Montserrado County.

Among other things, the review process is   aimed at strengthening the formulation and institutionalization of the Community Health Assistant program that will continue to provide basic quality primary healthcare services to nursing program and promote quality healthcare activities to people living within the reach of the nearest health facilities and urban communities across the country. 

The current CHA program policy and strategic plan, which is expected to expire in June 2021, will pave way for the on-going revision of the new curriculum.

Stakeholders in the health sector gathered from March 24 to 26, 2021 in Buchannan to review, deliberate and share their professional experiences on the program as it has been recommended by global health experts as the bedrock to achieving WHO objective of Universal Health Coverage for all.

Olasford Wiah, National Community Health Program Director at the Ministry of Health (MOH) said: “The past three days, we commenced reviewing these documents: Desk Review of the community health assistants program, the pilot reports of the community health promoter as well as to adopt officially as a Nation the WHO’s guideline on community health workers program

” So, over the last three days we have been deliberating among key stakeholders, and today we have finalized our work and it has been agreed by all of the stakeholders to use these tools as a referenced document into our policy review process that have begun.

“But, the more technical part will be starting in the coming weeks—this covers the entire community health service program.”

The WHO Guideline on health policy and system support to optimize community health workers program to assist national governments, and their partners, to improve the design, implementation, performance and evaluation of CHW programs, thereby contributing to the attainment of universal health coverage.

To meet this universal objective, community health workers are hired to serve as liaisons who will help mitigate health disparities, increase access to care, improve quality of care, and lower healthcare costs. They are nonclinical, nonmedical advisors and patient educators.

Referencing their impact on the sector over the past five years, Olasford Wiah said timely validation of the document is very important because the Ministry of Health is charged with the responsibility to provide quality healthcare to the population in Liberia; and as an extension and an integrated part   of the health system in the country, as such the validation and adoption of the program is key to universal health coverage.

In 2016, the Ministry of Health officially launched the National Community Health program immediately, following lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak that took thousands of lives in the Mano Region (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia). To curve some of these emerging global health threats, various departments and agencies were setup.

Hence, the Community Health Program, according to Wiah, has yielded lots of tangibles results that have direct impact on the overall performance of the healthcare delivery system in Liberia. Reduction in malaria, pneumonia, maternal mortality rates, among few were references he made to the successful impacts of the program in the Country.

“And so, by reviewing what we have done over the last six years, lessons; what we have learned; what are the issues—challenges and what are the recommendations that we want to take forward in the next year to come is what important for the forward match of the design of the curriculum,” the NCHAP Director at the end of the meeting. “Our main objective of the program is to ensure that maternal death and mortality rates are reduced.

As per the report, numbers of active Community Health Assistants across the country is put at approximately 3,7800, while the number of Community Health Volunteers is little over 5000.

“Now, the community health Assistant are within community beyond 5killometer, meaning the most remote communities of our country. So they are positioned there to provide services to the community.

Assuring Partners In Health (PIH) commitment to buttressing government’s efforts in providing quality health service delivery and attaining WHO Universal Health Coverage guideline was Lassan Jabateh, PIH’s Director of Community Health.

“We are here as organization (PIH) to support the Ministry’s dream. We are excited today that the Ministry of Health having a plan and program across all the inhabitants in Liberia irrespective of tribal, age, religious, political affiliation or geographical location.

“Partners in Health has been working with the Ministry since the Ebola period during which the organization was involved to ensure that Ebola was eradicated from the country and onward; we have been supporting the Ministry to ensuring that we have a resilient healthcare system,” Jabateh disclosed.

Liberia has a community health program with focused mostly on people living outside 5 kilometers which arguably constitutes 29%of the population.

Whereas there has not been standardized community program within 5 kilometers—which constitutes 71% of the population.

The validation exercise when completed will placed Liberia on the mode of universal health coverage, making sure that everybody within the perimeter of Liberia has access to health care.

Joyce Kilikpo, Executive Director of Public Health Initiative Liberia, explaining importance of the document, she said: “These document as you may know Community Health is the bedrock of our healthcare system. If we are going to address leaving no one behind—ensuring equity in our health sector—it stands with how well planned and informed our community health program is.

“These documents are worked over time with clearly states what needs to be corrected, what are good we are doing to provide best practices.

“Community health program links community with the health sector—building trust and relationship and at the same time using people from within the community to build that link.”

Signed: ________________________________

           Felecia Gbesioh

           Director of Communications, MOH, R.L.

105 Persons Regain Sights in Tappita

(March 15, 2021, Tappita City, Nimba)—The Liberian government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with New Sight Eye Center on March 13, 2021 concluded a free rural surgical Cataracts outreach at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County.

The Project is the first of four outreaches in rural Liberia, and it is fully funded by Samaritan Purse while New Sight Eye Canter is serving as implementing partner.

A surgical team comprising four Liberian Surgeons headed by Liberia’s National Eye Health Program Manager Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula of Ministry of Health was dispatched from Monrovia March 1, 2021 for the twelve-day project.

The arrival of the team in Tappita at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital coincided with the visitation meeting with Dr. Benjamin Harris, President of the Liberia College of physician and Grant Manager of Lion Club Foundation.

During the brief meeting Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula used the occasion to thank both Samaritan Purse and the New Sight Eye Canter for their tremendous supports to the Liberia’s Health sector, noting that the project will serve as monument for the citizens in the region.

For his part, Dr. John Tamba, Acting Executive Chief Office of the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital, lauded the efforts of SP and NSEC for the preferred of Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita.

Dr. Joseph stated that move will serve as luminary scars on the minds and faces of the entire Nimba County.

The meeting which is considered to be an iconic and must celebrated beginning of Eye-surgery in the region, was attended by New Sight Eye Canter’s program Manager Madam N’Chung M. Eben and Madam Yassa Darwolo among others of Samaritan Purse.

However, Henry Wongbeh, a 63-year old man narrated that he got blind as the result of working extensively on his Cocoa farm in Yorpea Nimba mid of 2016.

He stated that his condition of blindness worsened weeks later after the incident occurred.

According to him, he believed he was made blind by some witch in the area because of his Cocoa plantation.

The 63 years old father of 8, grandpa of 6, noted that after the unfortunate incident begins using traditional medicines and in order to curb the situation.  

Mr.Wongbeh said due to his condition he abandoned all his farming activities and begins sitting home all along in the village when everyone else goes on the farm for 5-years.

Henry pointed out that his children consistent stealing of his Cocoa and his anxiousness to continue serving God prompted him to have gone for the surgery upon hearing the news on air.

‘’Getting my eyeball back my son is the wonder of God, ’’ Mr. Wongbeh said Liberian English.

He praised the project team and rained blessings on them for the sacrifices made by extending the outreach service to Nimba.

Bill Gbormia-25 years old: “Cataract is not prominent among young people meanly in their 20s. But Bill Gbormia’s case is extraordinarily mind-boggling.”

 Bill told the project’s media team that, the week of his unfortunate loss of his both parents in a tragic accident turned out to be the same week he lost his both sights to particles of cement bags he was lifting in late 2015.

Bill said during the time of his illness, his 3 siblings including 16 half brothers and sisters totalling 19 abandoned, neglected and outcaste him except for his senior brother he currently stays with.

Gbormia who comes from one of Liberia’s tribal groups Geo in Tappita, Nimba County, narrated that the painful condition and peer-bullied pushed him several times to attempt committing suicide.

He said taking his life would have been the best solution to his problem, but each time he attempted doing so God would intervened by speaking to him to stop.

The bilateral-cataract man Gbormia’s facial appearance, with his overgrown finger and toe nails, and recent rough hair and bear shaved, coupled with mushroom mole covering his teeth showed that Bill was actually living in total captivity and neglect.

25 years old Bill described the coming of the surgical team to Nimba as a miracle he has long awaited fasted and praised for.

Bill named his inability to identified colours, light, walk in and out of bed, even the food he used to eat among others as things he really wish he had eyes to see.

’I never use to see anything with my two eyes in the town (the village), people use to laugh at me, I was looking like fun box, the mean thing da used to make me cry is no woman wanted me’’. Bill told me in Liberian colloquial with an exciting smile on his face as we walked in the corridor of the hospital.

Gbormia asserted further that regaining his both sights is a lifelong joy and authentication of God’s existence and vowed to dedicate his life to the work of God.

’I going home to serve God find one fine girl, so I can start to born my children and make my farm’’ The 25 years said to me as we parted company during his discharge from the Hospital when his both eyes were restored .

Love Leeway-26 yrs old: “Born and raised in Butuo Nimba County May 8, 1995 is Love Leeway who had bilateral-cataract for 10-years.”

Love said she woke up one morning and noticed her both eyes began to itch and tears begin rolling down her cheeks, that’s when she noticed her eyes wouldn’t see no more.

Leeway said the incident occurred in Tappita where she had gone to stay with her mother’s friend, because her father died and her single mother couldn’t carter to the rest of all 7 siblings.

After the incident Love said her mother’s friend retuned her (Love) to her mom because her condition was worsening.

I was in 4th grade, I have to drop from school because when I go to school anything the teachers them write on the blackboard I can’t see one’’. Love said in broken-Liberian English.

Love informed me that she has given birth 3-times and 2 of her children passed away and one is currently alive.

The 26 years old girl with tears rolling down her eyes and a faint light seems not to be penetrating her eye lenses narrated that, that two of the children’s father broke up with her and abandoned her along with one of the children, on the instruction of his mother due to her unbearable condition.

‘’His ma say he mum leave me, because I blind, I can’t  see and her son have to go Monrovia and go to school than to be behind  blind girl like me’’. Her voice began to hallo as she struggled expressing her pains in plain English for my understanding.

When asked how she was impregnated 3-times in roll, the 26-years woman said, due to her blindness men in the village took advantage of her situation and several times had unwanted sex withher when everyone had gone on the farm.

Something she said led to her loss of her virginity and her gettingpregnant several times.

’I used to cry every day, I used to be thinking that my life finish na and I have no reason to live’’. Love shackled as I managed to quench my petty for her (Love) by flipping the pages of my notebook.

she intoned that she never believed God ever existed but, regaining her 10-years of lost sights to bilateral cataracts shows that there exists a God that cares, and using Samaritan Purse to show his infinite love that has for people.

‘’The way I can see now, I going to serve God and go back to school.’’ Love said further as I concluded my interview with her after her multiple eye surgeries the next day. 

She used the medium to eulogized Samaritan Purse, New Sight Eye Center and the team of Liberian surgeons for their great and Monumental work and giving her back dignity and proud amongst people.

In conclusion, the project previously targeted ninety Cataracts surgeries but due to the team’s hard work and relentless commitment to the job, was able to performed 105 surgeries out of 1800 persons who were screened and pre-screened from March 2-13, 2021.

Signed: ________________________________

           Felecia Gbesioh

           Director of Communications, MOH, R.L.

GoL, Partners Launch Nationwide Typhoid Vaccination Campaign

(Monrovia, Liberia, April 6, 2021)—Liberia’s government quest to ensuring the provision of quality health services to its citizens is something that continue to water across the nation as stakeholders simultaneously and intermittently engage the health with seriousness.

This endeavor and other strategic engagements in the sector are aimed at seeing Liberia reached Universal health benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah and team at the Ministry of Health inclusive of partners are doing everything positively possible to meet such Global health goal and standard.

In supra, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 Launched a Nationwide Conjugate Typhoid Vaccination Campaign in the country.

The launch of the typhoid immunization campaign which should have been held in February from the 24 to 28, 2021, throughout the Country witnessed several speeches from high profiled individuals representing government institutions as well as international partners.

Most of the speakers thanked the government and partners for making the drugs available to the Liberian populace, and at the same time called on stakeholders to take the lead in accepting and encouraging their respective constituencies to act similarly in order to medically save the state.

Also in remarks was Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah who explained the significance of the launch and joined speakers by calling on Liberians to adhere to all of the previous nationwide immunizations launched ahead of the typhoid vaccination.

Dr. Jallah said the move by the Ministry and its partner is part of government’s efforts to minimize the increasing waves of the Typhoid disease infection among Liberians. 

“We are calling on all of you people, the Liberian populace in general to take this and all other vaccinations across the country seriously, because this effort is meant to minimize diseases among all of us”, she encouraged participants during the launch.

In furtherance, the Liberian potential and passionate Health Minister officially declared the typhoid vaccination nationwide campaign launched, saying “the vaccine is save; free of charge, and it’s given by day and not at night. It’s also available for all children in the country.”

Dr. Jallah, however, used the occasion urging Liberian parents and residents to make their Children available to be vaccinated against Typhoid.

The vaccination campaign targets little over 1,91170 children between 9-months to 14-year old: “We are targeting little over 1,91170 children who will be vaccinated across the nation,” Adolphus Clarke, Program Manager, National Immunization, Ministry of Health, said in a remark during the launch held at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship International on 9th street Sinkor.

The MOH energetic and strategic EPI Manager named Schools, major market places, health facilities, among others are venues earmarked by the Ministry of Health for the immunization.

He used the gathering to heap praises on the government of Liberia and partners in the health sector for the provision of the vaccine and their enormous contribution and support to the Ministry.

Prior to the launch, a thematic committee comprised of the EPI Division, Health Promotion Division, and Communication Unit of the Ministry as well as partners held series of media briefings, advocacy and community engagements, airing of simple typhoid messages.

To ensure that targeted children across the country are vaccinated, stakeholders including the Liberian Marketing Association, Crusaders for Peace, Medical and Dental Council, the Traditional Council of Liberia among other groupings were engaged to create massive awareness ahead of this official launch.

Signed: ___________________________

           Felecia Gbesioh, Director of Communication, MoH, RL

MOH, Partners Launch Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Partners has officially launched the 2021 Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign in Liberia.

The Polio Vaccination Campaign is fully supported by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which includes six members WHO, UNICEF, GAVI, CDC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Rotary.

During the launching ceremony which was held at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship International in Sinkor Friday March 26, 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia’s Health Minister Hon. Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah disclosed that about one million children under 5 years old are expected to be vaccinated adding that the Polio Vaccination Campaign will also include the birth registrations of all the children during the exercise. ‘’We want to make sure that all of the one million children that we are going to be vaccinating have their birth registrations and their normal polio vaccines’’ Dr. Jallah told scores of partners and the media  who had gone to the launch the 2021Polio vaccines.

 The Liberian Health Minister used the occasion to inform the Liberian populace that the polio vaccine is free of charge and it will be administered by vaccinators with identification Cards only in the day time.

Dr. Jallah praised all partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Rotary, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for their enormous support to the Health sector of Liberia. 

Also speaking at the Launch, Mr. Adolphus T. Clarke Program Manager of the Ministry of Health Immunization Project disclosed that, 3,119 vaccination teams have been dispatched in the various communities to conduct a full-scale house-to-house polio nationwide campaign with an aim of vaccinating 972,870 children across Liberia.

Mr. Clarke stated that 2 rounds of the polio vaccines will be given  to each child aged less than 5 years, while COVID-19 protocols will be adhere to ensure vaccinators, health workers and communities take  precautions and are protected from COVID19. Clarke added that at least 95% children are expected to be vaccinated during the exercise.

For her part, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) country Representative Madam Laila Omar Gad said the polio vaccination’s campaign launch is in fulfilment of global efforts to eradicate the poliovirus.

Madam Gad at the same time reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for the continuation of existing support to the Liberian Health sector.

In February 2021, the Ministry of Health in Liberia declared the Poliovirus outbreak in the country as a public health emergency. Children in Liberia are at a risk of contracting this incurable disease if they are not vaccinated against polio.

The Polio Vaccination Campaign will run from March 26-29, 2021.

This endeavour is in line with the world’s effort to curb and eradicate the Poliovirus.

Therefore; the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Health encourages all Citizens and residents in the borders of Liberia to make available their children under the age of 5 to be vaccinated.

Covax Vaccines Launch

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners has officially launched a nationwide Coronavirus Vaccination campaign

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