Cameroon Says Hesitancy Holding Back Covid-19 Vaccination Drive

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Cameroon has used just 12% of its Covid-19 vaccines, with only 68,000 people receiving at least one dose due to widespread mistrust in the shots.

The central African nation, which has received just over 590,000 vaccines, is struggling to inoculate its population due to hesitancy, Minister of Public Health Manaouda Malache said by phone Thursday. The country of 25 million people had planned to vaccinate 812,000 by July 31, he said.

More than half of the country’s vaccines are AstraZeneca Plc doses from the Covax facility, backed by the World Health Organization, with the balance made up of the Sinopharm and Sputnik versions from China and Russia respectively.

Misinformation on social media has fueled reluctance, according to Malache. Unused AstraZeneca doses will expire by the end of June, he said.

Cameroon’s situation is reflected across Africa, the world’s least inoculated continent with only 2.8% of the population vaccinated. Challenges include a lack of manufacturing capacity, funding and, in some cases, a slow government response. Hesitancy only adds to what may turn into a major crisis, with a third wave of coronavirus infections on the rise.

Cameroon’s vaccination drive was delayed after authorities initially disallowed the use of AstraZeneca over concerns about its side effects, although a donation of 200,000 Sinopharm doses enabled the country to start its campaign on April 12.

The government is planning to intensify its public awareness campaign in a bid to vaccinate at least 5,000 people a day, Minister of Communication Rene Emmanuel Sadi told reporters Wednesday.

“Those who aren’t vaccinated might find that a lot of things will no longer be available to them,” he said without giving more details, except to say that the government was considering making full vaccination mandatory before travel.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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