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COVID-19 Vaccine Message From EPI Program Manager

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 individuals 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 a 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 counselor 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 with an on-call doctor available 24 hours. Because we are not completely sure that the vaccine will protect you from Ebola you must 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 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 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 the vaccine, you should immediately contact the contact tracing and/or the telephone numbers provided.

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COVID-19 TRAVEL PROTOCOL

  1. For all non-travelers, sample collection is free.
  2. All in-coming travelers staying more than 5 days have to be tested within 72 hours before departure.
  3. Test results can be obtained from www.covidresults.org.
  4. All out-going travelers have to be tested within 72 hours before departure
  5. Sample Collection is located at Union Center, Sophie Road, Congo Town.
  6. For your certificate, visit  www.liberiacovidtravel.org.
  7. For questions or concerns, email us at unioncenter.lib@gmail.com or call +231776871219.
  8. Cost for testing is 75 USD for in-coming and out-going travelers.
  9. Union Center is open for testing @ 8 AM to 4PM every day
  10. Download the android app here.
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