At a local Covid-19 vaccination center in Yaoundé, Cameroon just a few people have come to get the jab. Among them is Menan Germain an expatriate.
After learning about the procedure, he is ready to be injected with the Chinese dose, called Sinopharm. For him, taking this vaccine is a matter of trust.
Despite the struggle to get an appointment, Germain finally got through.
"We can't destroy a whole population, so I'm confident about the vaccine. I tell myself that it is a safe product, otherwise it would not be put it on the market'', Germain told our Correspondent Joel Honoré Kouam.
Like him, other Chinese expatriates have been jabbed here. Unfortunately, no Cameroonian in sight. Africanews was told that 90% of those who come for the vaccines are non-citizens.
Chinese and the nationals of other countries were counted among those who received their dose during this first vaccination campaign, and according to a source at this regional vaccination center, Cameroonians were in the minority of those who took the vaccine.
For the few Cameroonians who come to be vaccinated, it’s only for travel reasons. As a result, out of the 700,000 doses that the country has received, only 45,000 people have been inoculated.
Dr. Shalom Tchokfe Ndoula is Permanent Secretary of the Expanded Program of Immunization of Cameroon (EPI).
"We vaccinated more than 45,000 people in Cameroon for the first phase of our vaccination campaign. In reality, this did not reach our maximum capacity to offer services, which means that we could have vaccinated more for the same period'', Dr. Tchokfe Ndoula said.
He said they’ve hardly reached the 10% of the expected numbers for this first month of vaccination. According to the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), the low number of vaccination centers in the country, is due to the fact that social media users have managed to make Cameroonians believe that the Covid-19 vaccine is dangerous for people of color.
As a result, vaccination centers are empty and on the street, Cameroonians openly express their opposition to this vaccine. This is the case of Guillaume Paul Mouté, a believer in medicinal herbs.
‘’I find the vaccine very controversial. Because for most of the time for a vaccine there should be time, there is not enough time and barely 6 months we start to vaccinate people. When you go to the hospital you don't find BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin, a vaccine for Tuberclosis disease), nor any other vaccine, but you find this one. Why do we give it so much importance?", Paul Mouté queried.
Mass sensitization campaign
In addition to these poor results, an internal EPI survey revealed that 37% of doctors and medical staff are unwilling to receive any vaccine, casting doubt on its reliability.
The situation has prompted the EPI to review its strategy through a mass sensitization campaign, even if it means employing door- to- door campaign to explain to the population about the safety of the vaccines.
The campaign comes at a time when a report of the Cameroonian Chamber of Commerce has found authorities and ministers guilty for dubiously mismanaging funds intended for the fight against Covid -19 in this Central African nation.
While the country awaits a third shipment of vaccines to arrive, the program is concerned about what will happen if the first tranche is not utilized.