In an effort to alleviate public fears and promote the COVID-19 vaccine uptake, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the British Embassy and private sector influencers on 17th May 2021 conducted a questions and answer panel discussion on COVID-19 vaccine in Liberia.
The first awareness event of its kind featured an hour-long panel discussion from health experts including Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, WHO Country Representative Dr. Peter Clement, National EPI Director Mr. Adolphus Clarke as well as prominent influencers in Liberia with focused on addressing public concerns that leads to vaccine hesitancy and refusals.
According to WHO, the panel discussion aimed to increase awareness of COVID-19 vaccine and its benefits, provide clarity on issues around vaccine hesitancy and promote uptake in the general public to prevent COVID-19. Following the panel discussion, the panelists answered a wide variety of questions from the audience centered around safety, eligibility and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a keynote address at the opening of the panel discussion, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah underscored the importance of a joint effort in ending COVID-19 in Liberia. She said if we are to curb COVID-19 vaccine misinformation which we all know can lead to vaccine hesitancy and refusals, we must correct such with factual information from different sources. Dr. Jallah called for a more strengthened collaboration between the health and private sectors in addressing misinformation and rumor that could threaten the COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
Dr. Peter Clement, WHO Representative for Liberia assured the audience that the COVID-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca) being administered in Liberia has gone through WHO vaccine approval requirements and it is safe and effective. "Vaccines have been around since the inception of science and minor side effects are normal with vaccines" Dr. Clement said. He called on all eligible persons to avail themselves and get vaccinated in addition to the preventive measures to end COVID-19.
The event culminated with audience members, as well as other citizens receiving the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination. Close to 200 people were vaccinated at event with many excited to be part of the growing population of Liberians receiving the vaccine.
The event was also supported by media partners Philimena.com, Lonestar MTN, & The Liberian Influence who will continue disseminating information to Liberian's nationwide relating to the COVID-19 vaccination.