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Cameroon tackles vaccine hesitancy on the football pitch – Cameroon


  • Many Cameroonians decided to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after their government made it compulsory to enter stadiums during the Africa Cup.
  • Only one million doses had fallen into the arms of Cameroonians before the Cup, representing only 2.5% of the population, with strong reluctance to vaccinate motivated by problems of vaccine safety.
  • The Cameroon COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project is facilitating the deployment of 3.5 million doses of vaccines through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.

YAOUNDÉ, February 22, 2022– During the Africa Cup of Nations, the capital Yaoundé and other major cities in Cameroon saw an increase in vaccination, with hundreds of people queuing under the sun to be vaccinated against COVID-19 . Boxes with PCR tests and vaccination points lined the entrance to Olembe’s main stadium, with dozens of medical staff registering football fans for their shots so they could get their vaccination certificates and watch a match.

After numerous delays and adjustments due to the pandemic, special measures had to be put in place to avoid another postponement of the tournament and, more importantly, an increase in COVID-19 cases among teams, fans, visitors. and the population. in its entirety. And what greater incentive than to make access to the stadium accessible only to vaccinated people?

“We have all been waiting for this tournament and now that it is here, nothing will stop me from supporting our Indomitable Lions and winning our 6th star,” said Ousmanou, 33 and avid supporter of the Cameroon national football team. . . “And if I have to be vaccinated to go to the stadium, I will.”

Many Cameroonians like Ousmanou decided to get vaccinated against COVID-19 only after the government made access to stadiums compulsory.

Let’s address the reluctance to score more goals

While more than 10 billion doses of vaccines have been administered in countries around the world, only just over a million doses have fallen into the arms of Cameroonians, or just 2.5% of the total population. A recent World Bank survey on vaccine hesitancy was piloted in Cameroon to better understand why many people in the country remained hesitant.

The data showed a high level of hesitation. About one in two people surveyed were unsure about getting vaccinated. The hesitation appears to have been driven primarily by vaccine safety concerns. Health workers had similar hesitation rates to the general population. These findings highlighted that simple, clear, and targeted communication and the use of messengers, especially health experts and religious leaders, can have a big impact on attitudes toward vaccines.

The country has taken specific measures and introduced a health pass, necessary as proof of vaccination, to access the different stadiums during the African Cup. On the day of the opening match, Cameroon vs Burkina Faso, the Ministry of Health mobilized health workers to administer approximately 60,000 tests and vaccinate all spectators who requested to be vaccinated in just three hours at the venue alone. ‘Olembe.

Yet adoption of the vaccine will depend on the country continuing to invest in a robust communications campaign with all stakeholders, including health experts, as well as traditional and religious leaders, all aiming for the same goal.

As part of the COVID-19 response, the World Bank is supporting Cameroon to strengthen health systems through the Cameroon COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project by strengthening public health preparedness, strengthening rolling out the campaign and facilitating the deployment and supply of vaccines. of 3.5 million doses through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust chaired by the African Union, and in coordination with other partners.

As with football, it takes a team to defeat the pandemic.

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