The first batch of 200,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine arrived in Cameroon on April 12, 2021 and was received by the Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute. The vaccines were quickly dispatched to the 243 vaccination centers across the country’s ten regions. On the advice of the Scientific Council and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) the priority group was a frontline health worker, people over 50 and those suffering from pre-existing health conditions and vulnerable groups. On April 19, another consignment arrived consisting of 391,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment a global initiative to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Upon arrival of the vaccines the government reiterated that the vaccine is free of charge and it’s not compulsory. Cameroon set a goal to vaccinate 20% of its over 25 million population with a Covid-19 vaccine as the country is struggling with a new surge of infections.
To this effect, the Minister of Public health was the first member of government minister to receive vaccine. This was closely followed by the Prime Minister, other cabinet ministers and international dignitaries who voluntarily took the vaccine at the auditorium of the PM’s office
As of May 21, 2021, information from the Twitter handle of the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie, revealed that Cameroon has already administered 48,971 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that is; 29, 882 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and 19,089 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine respectively.
Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Sputnik V are the four vaccines approved by Cameroon’s Scientific Council to roll back the pandemic in the country, thus giving Cameroonians a wide variety of vaccines from which they can choose from.
With the many conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine, there has been some level of hesitancy on the part of the population. Despite the efforts made by the government, assuring the population of the safety of the vaccine, the level of confidence is still low; many people are worried about the side effects. Some of the reasons advanced by the population include amongst others the source and reliability of the vaccine; the preference of traditional medicine over conventional medicine; the communication and media environment as well as possible side effects.
Social media platforms have also played a great role to this effect since so much confusing information is shared about the vaccine, anti-vaccination campaigns saying Africans should not accept the vaccine because it is a ploy to depopulate the continent. Though the process is moving at a snail pace, it is important to note that the number of persons receiving the vaccine daily is gradually progressing. The Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachi, in a tweet dated May 21, 2021, was optimistic about the progress this far but says it can be better. The government continues to encourage the population to get vaccinated while strictly adhering to all anti-covid-19 barrier measures.