Vaccine hesitancy in the country has meant that the uptake of Covid-19 vaccination has generally been poor. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)
Vaccine hesitancy in the country has meant that the uptake of Covid-19 vaccination has generally been poor. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Cameroonians resist Covid-19 vaccination as foreigners take up immunisation drive

By Songezo Ndlendle Time of article published Jun 18, 2021

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Cape Town – Ninety percent of those who are going to be vaccinated in the approved centres in Cameroon are people from other nationalities living in that country, according to an Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) report.

Many Cameroonians hold on to conspiracy theories and remain reluctant to take the Covid-19 vaccine, the EPI report says.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Thursday said that the issue of vaccine safety seems to have remained an ongoing stumbling block.

According to experts, the government needs to improve communication about the vaccination campaign. Social communication experts think that in order to instil confidence in people, it will be important to use opinion leaders to influence people’s convictions about the vaccine.

In April, Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, along with several ministers and members of the diplomatic corps, received the first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine in a move to encourage Cameroonians to get vaccinated.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that they took the jab at a rollout ceremony held in the capital, Yaounde.

At the time, Ngute said he was confident in the vaccine and hoped the inoculation of government officials would let residents feel safe to get vaccinated.

Efforts to fight the pandemic, including the voluntary vaccination programme, require the full collaboration of the people of Cameroon, Ngute has said.

Despite the communication strategy elaborated by the ministry of public health and its partners on the vaccination against Covid-19, mobilisation of people is limited, OCHA said.

The multiple-dose vaccines discourage recipients and there is a general lack of follow-up and mobilisation strategy for the second dose of the vaccine, said the UN agency.

Last week, Ngute instructed the government to embark on a concerted awareness-creation campaign in order to overcome the population’s reluctance to take the Covid-19 vaccine, according to Cameroonian publication Cameroon Tribune.

The Central African country received 391 200 Covid-19 vaccine doses via the Covax facility with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) as key delivery partner. Unicef with partners have launched a Covid-19 vaccine sensitisation campaign.

However, vaccine hesitancy in the country has meant that the uptake of Covid-19 vaccination has generally been poor, the agency said.

Also last week, Ngute summoned a meeting of the ministers of public health communication, accompanied by other cabinet ministers, to evaluate the national vaccination campaign strategy and to adopt measures to enable more Cameroonians to get vaccinated, Cameroon Tribune reported.

Ngute attributed the population’s reluctance to get vaccinated to disinformation on social media networks on the negative side effects of the vaccines.

At the meeting, minister of communication René Emmanuel Sadi has told members of the media that there will be joint explanatory press conferences in the coming days.

With a case fatality rate of 1.6 percent, Cameroon remains the 12th African country with the highest number of infections, according to OCHA.

Latest figures show that Cameroon has recorded 80 328 Covid-19 cases, with 35 261 recoveries and 1 313 deaths since the first case was recorded in March last year.

African News Agency (ANA)

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