“Getting vaccinated protects us all.”
Sahr Kelly, Civil Engineer, Dwazhark, Sierra Leone
In the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, one of the people who was unwilling to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was Sahr Kelly, a construction engineer at Dwazhark community in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
"The impact of COVID-19 was not so great in Sierra Leone, so I asked myself why I should go for a vaccine?" he explained.
He learnt that the vaccines had arrived in the country and people were being encouraged to get vaccinated while doing some maintenance work at one of the hospital buildings in Freetown. Sahr, who had remained hesitant for some time, then changed his mind and took the shot.
I chose to get vaccinated because the vaccine was free, and I didn't believe it would harm me.
COVID-19, like Ebola, is extremely infectious, transmissible, and communicable. Coming into direct contact with sick people is a simple way to contract COVID-19. Despite this, Sahr claims that many in his community still believe COVID-19 is not as dangerous as Ebola.
“When you mention Ebola, people are more afraid of it than of COVID-19. At first, some people thought this was a European illness because it wasn't as severe as Ebola,” he said.
Over the next few days following his vaccination, Sahr shifted his attention to convincing his hesitant and apprehensive colleagues and family to get vaccinated.
"I told my mother about the COVID-19 vaccine, but she was already vaccinated; so was my uncle. My friends – especially those I work with – are hard to persuade. Some of them believe COVID-19 is no longer active and that life has returned to normal.”
As a U-Reporter, Sahr became one of the messengers of COVID-19 sensitization and education. He contributed to spreading the message that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for everyone. He believes that information is critical in assisting people in making informed vaccination decisions.
"Vaccination is necessary for people's protection. I have not had any side effects since I got vaccinated, and I believe everyone should do the same."