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The Covid-19 Vaccine: 11 Key Questions and Answers


As of the 9th of November 2021, the world had seen over 250 million COVID-19 cases amongst which over 5 million persons have died from the disease [1]. In terms of the number of cases that had been registered as of the 9th of November 2021, Asia is seen to be the most affected continent while Oceania is seen to have the lowest number of cases. Africa on the other hand which is contributing to only about 3% of the world’s cases and 4.3% of the world’s deaths, has the second highest case fatality rate from a continental standpoint. It is however important to note low testing levels and poor testing strategies have been accused as part of the reasons for the low number of cases observed in Africa [2,3]. A look at available continental data on COVID-19 (Table 1), suggests that, although only a small proportion of cases are found in Africa, the burden of the disease in terms of number of the number of people dying from number of persons who have had the disease is one of the highest in the world.

Table 1: COVID-19 cases deaths and CFR by continents of the world

Table 1-COVID-19 cases deaths and CFR by continents of the world

Data source: Worldometer

Cameroon is currently experiencing a third wave of the disease which has seen an increase in the number of cases and deaths[4]. As of the 21st of November 2021, the country had registered a total number of 61,731 cases and 919 deaths (case fatality rate of 1.5%). Despite fears of a fourth wave, vaccination uptake has been observed to be relatively low with only 166,517 out of 13,944,491 persons targeted for vaccination haven received complete vaccination (vaccine coverage of 1.2%)[4]. Several reasons for this low uptake have been hypothesized including the lack of adequate and correct information about the disease and vaccination[5]. Below and therefore 11 key questions and answers related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

1. Why do I need to be vaccinated?

Vaccination against COVID-19 protects against severe disease due to the coronavirus. In addition to the other preventive measures, it is to date the most effective way to reduce the number of severe cases of illness and death due to COVID-19[6].

Simply, vaccination against COVID-19 in combination with other preventive measures (masks, washing of hands, physical distancing) is the best strategy to fight the coronavirus[7].


Vaccination has diverse advantages on various levels.

  • Individually: protects the individual by helping to develop immunity reduces the risk of infection and for those who get infected, it reduces the risk of developing a severe form/complication of the disease which is the leading cause of death for the most vulnerable.
  • HealthCare System: Vaccination reduces the overall burden of the pandemic on a public health scale as the impact on healthcare spending, workforce and other indicators will drop. This can allow the redirection of much needed resources to support other priorities in nation and global health.
  • Community: Vaccination is one of the essential strategies in the fight against COVID-19, which will allow us to lift restrictive measures such as curfews, confinement, and limitation of the number of people in meetings[7,8]. As such, businesses, education and other aspects pf social life can continue hitch-free.

2. Is COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

Vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory in Cameroon. However, vaccination is recommended to reduce the risk of developing the severe form of COVID-19.

3. Is the vaccine free?

The vaccine is free for everyone, regardless of where it is given

4. Who is eligible for vaccination?

Any person who is at least 18 years is eligible for vaccination in Cameroon1. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing

conditions of any kind, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled[8].

5. What type of vaccine is available in Cameroon and where does it come from?

The vaccine received by Cameroon, on 17 April 2021, 2021, is the AZD1222 vaccine, commonly known as “AstraZeneca”, developed by the University of Oxford (England) in collaboration with the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute in India[9]. Cameroonians can also choose between the Chinese Sinopharm, and United States Johnson & Johnson vaccines[10].

6. Can pregnant and / or breastfeeding women get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Pending the results of studies on the effects of COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant and breastfeeding women, vaccination is not offered to pregnant women, unless the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the mother and the foetus. The World health organisation however recommends that individuals within the categories listed below, discuss their situation with health care providers[8]:

  • Have a compromised immune system
  • Are pregnant or nursing your baby
  • Have a history of severe allergies, particularly to a vaccine (or any of the ingredients in the vaccine)
  • Are severely frail.

7. Is the coronavirus vaccine effective?

The various vaccines against the coronavirus prequalified by the WHO are effective and safe. The Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been approved by the WHO. Before being approved by the WHO and national regulatory bodies, all COVID-19 vaccines have undergone clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to ensure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities[11].

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor vaccines for safety concerns after use. Vaccination is only implemented when the country’s regulatory authorities, under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, are convinced of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

The approved COVID-19 vaccines swere developed under the strict supervision of multiple international organization. The required steps for vaccine development were followed and accelerated, given the worldwide emergency situation created by the pandemic. No vaccine however was approved without the all the basic security checks undertaken.

8. How long after a COVID-19 infection can a person be vaccinated?

It is recommended to wait until after the acute episode of COVID-19 infection and the period of contagiousness of a person have ended before being vaccinated, generally evaluated at 90 days.2

9. If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, should I still take other precautions such as physical distancing and wearing masks?

Yes. Until all members of our communities are vaccinated, we recommend that everyone – including those who have been vaccinated – continue to use all means possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Even if the vaccine protects us from developing the disease, we still can serve as vectors transmitting the disease from one person or surface to another through our hands or the objects we use. Barrier methods, such as physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and regular hand washing remain very important until the majority of the population is vaccinated and protected[7].

10. What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? What should I do in case of side effects?

Vaccines, like any other medicinal products, can cause side effects. Most of these effects are mild and temporary, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, or fever. These may be signs that your body is building up its immunity following the injection of the vaccine. These common side effects are widely reported to subside with off-the-counter antalgics like Paracetamol and usually do not require medical attention.

If side effects persist however, people are advised to return to the site where they were vaccinated or to the nearest health facility for a medical evaluation.

11. Is the vaccine safe for children?

No. Vaccines are usually tested in adults first, and only later assessed in children when safety has been proven in adults, because children are still developing and growing. COVID-19 has also been a more serious and dangerous disease among older people. Now that the vaccines have been determined to be safe for adults, they are being studied in children[8].


  1. Worldometer. COVID Live Update: 251,252,276 Cases and 5,075,036 Deaths from the Coronavirus – Worldometer [Internet]. [cited 2021 Nov 9]. Available from:
  2. World Health Organisation. Six in seven COVID-19 infections go undetected in Africa [Internet]. WHO | Regional Office for Africa. [cited 2021 Nov 10]. Available from:
  3. Ngwa W. Low COVID-19 Cases in Africa: A possible explanation [Internet]. Epi Guider. 2020 [cited 2021 Nov 10]. Available from:
  4. CCOUSP. CAMEROUN: Rapport de situation COVID-19, N°101 [Internet]. CCOUSP. [cited 2021 Nov 9]. Available from:
  5. Kouagheu J. « Les Camerounais fuient le vaccin contre le Covid-19 comme la peste ». Le [Internet]. 2021 Nov 3 [cited 2021 Nov 10]; Available from:
  6. CDC. Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 9]. Available from:
  7. CDC. COVID-19 Vaccination [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from:
  8. World Health Organisation. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines [Internet]. [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from:
  9. United Nations. 391,200 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccines arrive Cameroon | United Nations in Cameroon [Internet]. [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from:,
  10. Kindzeka ME. Cameroon Receives US Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Amid Covid Hesitancy [Internet]. VOA. [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from:
  11. World Health Organisation. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines safety [Internet]. [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from:
  12. World Health Organisation. Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccines [Internet]. [cited 2021 Nov 21]. Available from: