Gambian women’s voices on COVID-19 vaccines: “We are afraid”

Oct 13, 2021, 11:44 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2021, 10:43 pm
This four pictures combo shows, from left, Lama Mballow, Anta Sambou, Lucy Jarju and Fatou Janha Mb...

This four pictures combo shows, from left, Lama Mballow, Anta Sambou, Lucy Jarju and Fatou Janha Mboob, photographed in Serrekunda and Bansang, Gambia. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

SERREKUNDA, Gambia (AP) — Oyster harvesting in Gambia is considered women’s work. It’s a grueling task — they paddle rickety boats, then get into water up to their necks to lay nets. Many of the women are the sole family breadwinners, and that burden has only intensified with the pandemic’s economic hardships.

Oysters bring income just two months a year — the rest of year, the nets catch crabs and small fish.

The TRY Oyster Women’s Association represents more than 500 women, many of whom are reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. These women fish under darkness of night without fear but are anxious about the vaccine. They say they can’t miss a day of work if it means being sidelined — even briefly– because of side effects from the jab.

Here are their concerns, in their words.

___

OUMIE SAMBOU, 50, UNVACCINATED

Sambou’s husband is older and can no longer work. She alone makes money to feed their five children.

“Our life since the coronavirus arrived has been very difficult. No one had anything, and no one was able to work. If I do not wake up and go to work at the water, I will not have anything for my children.

“When COVID-19 broke out, we were told that no one should work. For us, if we sit at home without going to work, what do you expect us to give to feed our children? If your husband isn’t strong enough to work and you both sit at home, how will you survive this along with your children?

“I’m not convinced to accept the vaccine. My mind did not accept it; this is why I said I will not take the vaccine.”

___

FATOU JANHA MBOOB, 67, VACCINATED

Mboob, head of the TRY Oyster Women’s Association, tries to educate members and her staff about COVID-19.

“Every time we had a meeting … I would tell them about my friends and relatives who had died of COVID-19.

“I took (the vaccine) when it was being offered to the health workers who did not want to take it. So I went in. And then when I got it, I tried to convince my workers around me — my house helpers, my staff — to take it. It wasn’t easy for all of them. I mean, they just didn’t believe in taking that vaccine. So my condition was: You either take the vaccine or you cannot come to my house, to work, to the office. So through that, they took it reluctantly.”

___

LUCY JARJU, 53, UNVACCINATED

Jarju lost her husband a decade ago and is the sole provider for her family. Four of her seven children live at home, along with her daughter-in-law and three granddaughters.

“What if I get it and the vaccine does not work with my blood and brings me difficulties? I was told to go and take the vaccine, but I said that I was scared. If I take the vaccine and I can’t move again, what will I do?

“I can’t deny the fact that it exists; it does exist. I’m only scared about the vaccine. It’s my only concern. The way I hear people talking about it, that’s why I’m scared.”

___

MADELINE SAMBOU, 66, VACCINATED

Sambou, mother of three, was vaccinated after pressure from her grown children. Her peers haven’t been persuaded by her experience.

“When I took the vaccine, it did not cause any problems. I went, took it and came back and I was able to cook my food, do the laundry, and all my activities.

“People were saying: ‘You are definitely strong. The injection vaccine did not cause any problems for you, you are doing your work.'”

___

SABEL JATTA, 60, CONSIDERING VACCINATION

Jatta, is a widow and mother of seven.

“We don’t have a husband. The river is our husband.

“I’m not scared of the virus. I’m scared of the vaccine.

“The vaccine they are giving abroad is better than the one they give here. The one given here is not good.

“I have seen my children that have taken the vaccine. Now it’s only me that has not taken it … but I will go again.”

___

ROSE JATTA, 49, UNVACCINATED

Jatta suffers from chronic health issues but still goes out in search of food on the river daily. She fears the vaccine could make her sicker, leaving her two children without food.

“My kids only depend on me. Who will help my family if I cannot work?”

___

FATOU JATTA, 66, UNVACCINATED

Jatta, mother of three, has no plans to be vaccinated.

“We are afraid of the vaccine. Some people will take it and will have more problems in their bodies.

“I’m not taking it. My body can’t handle it.”

____

ANTA SAMBOU, 66, UNVACCINATED

Sambou, a mother of six, knows the virus exists but doesn’t want the jab.

“We pray for the virus to leave and go back where it comes from. The river, the river is what we have.”

___

This story is part of a yearlong series on how the pandemic is impacting women in Africa, most acutely in the least developed countries. AP’s series is funded by the European Journalism Centre’s European Development Journalism Grants program, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AP is responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Wind-pushed fires force evacuations, burn homes in Montana

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Hundreds of people in the town of Denton were forced to flee flames pushed by strong winds in central Montana on Wednesday, while a fire south of the city of Great Falls burned 11 homes as well as sheds and other small buildings, officials said. Downed power lines are believed […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-child actor in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ shot, killed

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jonshel Alexander, a onetime child actress who played a supporting role in the 2012 Oscar-nominated film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was killed in a weekend shooting in her native Louisiana. She was 22. Police said Alexander and a man were shot inside a vehicle Saturday in New Orleans and she […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Prosecutor: No charges in goalie Kivlenieks’ fireworks death

NOVI, Mich. (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed in the fireworks-related death of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks at a Detroit-area home during a July 4 celebration, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday. The death has officially been ruled accidental, and the case is now closed, the office said. The accident […]
17 hours ago
Ethan Crumbley, center, appears on a video arraignment at 52nd District Court in Rochester Hills, M...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Michigan shooting suspect charged with terrorism

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan prosecutors on Wednesday charged a teen with terrorism in a deadly mass shooting at his high school, a novel approach made possible by a law enacted after the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago. The state’s 2002 anti-terrorism law defines a terroristic act as one intended to intimidate or coerce […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Dead woman was mom of knife-wielding man killed by police

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — A woman found dead in her garage was the mother of the knife-wielding man fatally shot by police at the home over the weekend, Maryland officials said. Anne Arundel County police officers arrived at the Glen Burnie home Sunday after a 911 caller said a male family member with a […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge weighs whether to dismiss Ohio doc’s 25 murder charges

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge is weighing arguments about whether to dismiss the 25-count murder case against an Ohio doctor accused of ordering excessive painkillers for hospital patients. William Husel’s lawyers say he was providing comfort care to the dying, not trying to kill them sooner, and contend the charges were built on misrepresentations. […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Gambian women’s voices on COVID-19 vaccines: “We are afraid”