Parents have had their children vaccinated against measles, chicken pox, yellow fever, small pox, meningitis and other diseases for many years, without objection. But that has changed.
In recent times, most parents have begun to raise questions on the safety of vaccines. Side effects of vaccines have also become a topical issue for most parents, owing to conspiracies surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.
Random videos, unverified information and claims on the side effects of vaccines on social media have fueled a growing vaccine hesitance.
Addressing the recent vaccine hesitance was the focus of the African Vaccination week which held from April 24-30 in Cameroon. Discussions focused on the global theme “Vaccination Brings us Closer”.
Nganjeu Majoli, a mother resident in the Cameroon’s Capital, Yaoundé says parents are scared that vaccines will affect their children.
“We have heard stories that some children fall sick after taking vaccines,” Majoli said, expressing a common feeling.
On her part, Esther Ndo, a sales person worries about reports of the side effects of the vaccines.
“I have nothing to do with vaccines. Even whites say we are poisoned with vaccines. Most pigmies have never taken vaccines, but those of us who take the vaccines are always sick. There are a lot of questions surrounding vaccines,” she said.
Regardless of these stumbling blocks, Public Health officials are using the anti-COVID vaccination campaign, launched on April 12 in Cameroon to dispel rumors surrounding vaccination.
As Cameroon observed the African vaccination Week, experts set out to work on rebuilding confidence in vaccines, and encouraging the population to have their children vaccinated.
On April 30, the Expanded Programme on Immunization, supervised a workshop jointly organized with the World Health Organization to educate women on the importance of vaccines.
Dr. Shalom Ndula, Permanent Secretary of the Expanded Program on Immunization says holding such a meeting with women is pivotal in the fight against the growing vaccine hesitance.
“Women are the care takers of children. They also protect children. That is why we are insisting on the participation of women in immunization efforts in our communities,” he stressed.
Kathy Neba Sina