Situational analysis of COVID-19 vaccinations in Cameroon
The outbreak of COVID-19 since late December 2019 has seen the world into a deep scientific search for vaccines against this new virus. A number of vaccines have been developed and approved for use while a lot more are still on the way. The ultimate goal of these vaccines is to provide immunity towards the virus, reduce severe illness as well death from COVID-19. Vaccines are the safest and effective ways to protect from the disease. As of September 2021, about 45.8% of the world’s population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Globally, a total of 6.3 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered with 22.93 million doses given out each day. The WHO is now pushing for 40% to be vaccinated by the end of the year and more than 70% by mid-2022.
The situation of vaccination in Cameroon per region
Cameroon received its first batch of vaccines which was Sinorpharm (200,000 doses) in April 2021. This was followed by 392,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. A vaccination campaign was launched by the Ministry of Public Health which saw the vaccination of thousands of Cameroonians. So far over 460,000 thousand doses of the vaccines have been given across the ten region as of September 2021 and this corresponds to a vaccination coverage of about 0.3% nationally. This has not been uniform across the regions as some regions have seen higher uptakes of the vaccines compared to others. Cameroon has deployed 3 vaccines so far, Sinorpharm, Astra Zeneca and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Table 1 below shows a summary of vaccinations per region in Cameroon.
Table 1: Vaccinations per region in Cameroon
||Johnson and Johnson
Source: Ministry of Public Health Cameroon, September, 2021
According to the data reported, the Extreme Nord has given out the highest number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccines with 119,910 vaccines (for all three types). From the data presented above, the vaccinations campaigns which were launched throughout the national territory was effective in the Northern Region. The second most vaccinated region is the Centre Region with just about half of the number observed in the Extreme North regions. Out of the 461,201 doses deployed so far, 217,196 have been roll-out in the 3 Northern regions. The South West region has roll-out a small percentage of the vaccine and apparently COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is still high in this area.
Among the different types of vaccines deployed, 306,157 doses of the total 461,201 of Astra Zeneca has been administered constituting 66.4% while Sinorpharm follows with 117,329 (25.4%). Although Astra has had a higher proportion of the doses given out, it can be observed that most of the jabs are the first dose and not the second dose. The proportion of the second dose of Astra Zeneca compared to Sinopharm is lower as more people who received the Sinorpharm vaccine have taken their second dose. This could probably be due to the fact that the Astra Zeneca vaccine were out of stock. Having the second dose of the vaccine is important as it is not known yet how effective a single dose of the vaccine Astra Zeneca or Sinopharm) can protect a person from COVID-19. It is recommended to get the second dose of vaccine as closely as possible to the recommended date and not before the recommended date. The time lapse between first and second dose varies per vaccine. In the case of the Astra Zeneca, it is one of the vaccines with a wider window and the period between Dose1 and Dose2 can span between one to three months.
While it is important to note that the second dose of a vaccine type should be the same as the first dose, there are some exceptional situations where a different types of vaccine could be given as second dose. Some of the situations include:
– If the individual experienced anaphylaxis reactions with a particular brand of the vaccine in the first dose, they can be offered another based on advice from an allergy specialist
– If there is an interruption in the supply chain of vaccines
– If a person was vaccinated abroad and the same brand of vaccine is not available in the current location.
In situations where different types of the vaccine have to be given to the same person, due consultation has to be made with specialist before this is done. The Johnson and Johnson (JJ) vaccine requires just one dose and so far it is the least patronized in the country. The Centre region has given out the highest number of the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine in Cameroon.
In conclusion, although less than 1% of the Cameroon population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, some progress has been made. A lot more can still be achieved especially given that Cameroon is already at the 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections. It is therefore recommended that more national campaign strategies should be carried out to bring the vaccines closer to the people, with special emphasis in regions where uptake is still low. It is also important that maximum effort should be put to make sure the supply chain of the vaccines is efficient and effective.