Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla gets the Covid-19 vaccine at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla gets the Covid-19 vaccine at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Vaccine hesitancy is decreasing as more Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Africa, says WHO

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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THE World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa says vaccine hesitancy is decreasing, as more Covid-19 vaccines arrive on the continent.

In the past week, about 13 million doses were administered, three times more than the number of shots given in the previous week, as more vaccines become available on the continent. So far only 2,4% of the population in Africa are currently vaccinated.

Dr Edinam Agbenu, a technical officer for quality and safety for the WHO Africa Region, said vaccine hesitancy in Africa was a result of significant vaccine shortage on the continent and, since vaccines started arriving, the uptake had also increased.

“As vaccines are made available more people are getting vaccinated. Our surveillance shows that as more vaccines have arrived in Africa and there has been an increase in the uptake, this shows that hesitancy was a matter of the unavailability of vaccines,” she said.

A 2020 Africa Centers for Disease Control (Africa CDC) survey in 15 countries found that while 79% of respondents would take a Covid-19 vaccine, vaccine hesitancy ranged from four to 38%.

Head of Africa CDC John Nkengasong said the continent had received 130 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, of which 93 million had been administered in 53 member states.

“Vaccine hesitancy is not a problem in Africa. The problem in Africa is vaccine famine, not vaccine hesitancy, ” he said.

Most African countries initially got their vaccines under Covax, a WHO-backed global vaccine sharing scheme, which was largely sourced from the Serum Institute of India. But earlier this year, India halted vaccine exports in response to its own urgent needs.

On Monday, France said it would provide the continent with 10 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines over the next three months, following a new partnership between France and the AU.

The vaccines will be allocated and distributed in the framework of the AU's African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.

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