COVID-19 : 63,000 persons of 800,000 target immunized

Officials of the Expanded Program on Immunization say only 63,000 persons out of a targeted 800,000 have been vaccinated in Cameroon.

This first phase of the vaccination exercise began in early April 2020.

Cameroon’s Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaouda Malachie, took the first dose of the vaccine. Then, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief. Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute and other Ministers, religious leaders, health personnel and other persons also took the vaccine.

But their participation has not contributed a great deal to bringing the expected results as less than one tenth of the target number of persons have been immunized.

Many Cameroonians are still clinging to conspiracy theories and a generalized reticence surrounding the vaccination, regardless of the recent extension of vaccination to persons aged 18 and above. The question of safety of the vaccines seems to have remained a permanent stumbling block.

The vaccines we choose

Four vaccines were chosen by Cameroon for COVID-19 immunization ; Sinopharm, AstraZeneCa, Sputnik V and Johnson and Johnson.

But before the vaccines arrived Cameroon, many had ruled out vaccination against COVID-19 because of the questions surrounding their effectiveness and safety.

Many Cameroonians pointed to reports of patients in some countries who experienced side effects or  died after taking the vaccine, but WHO said there was no corresponding evidence. The health organization continuously told countries that the benefits of taking the vaccine outweigh the side effects.

About six weeks after the exercise began in Cameroon, vaccination eligibility was extended to persons aged 18 and above. Yet, the exercise is still on a slow side.

Communication experts say government needs to improve communication on the vaccination campaign. Jean Paul Tchomdoun, a communication and marketing expert says to inspire confidence in people, “We need to approach the campaign with people the population hold in high esteem”.

Kathy Neba Sina

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