The Gambia has received its first shipment of 36,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility at the Banjul International Airport on Tuesday night, the Gambian Ministry of Health and UNICEF announced in a statement on Wednesday.
The Gambian Health Minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh described the development as historic and momentous.
“Now that both the syringes and vaccines are here, we are expediting our plans to ensure that vaccination of health care workers, those with underlying medical conditions, and elderly people of 65 years and above, will kick off soon,” Samateh said in the statement.
“I must reiterate that the government of The Gambia only accepts vaccines that are safe and effective and these vaccines have passed the test,” he stressed.
The UNICEF representative in The Gambia, Gordon Jonathan Lewis, has reaffirmed commitment to vaccine equity to ensure that no one is left behind.
“By delivering these vaccines, we have taken a giant leap towards recovery for the hundreds of thousands of children and their families affected by the pandemic in this country. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health, WHO, and other key partners to support the fast roll-out of a landmark immunization campaign,” he said.
The COVAX facility is a global initiative co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key implementing partner UNICEF, working to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.
The Gambia reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 16, 2020. The country has so far recorded 4,735 positive cases, including 151 deaths and 4,111 recoveries.