Cameroonian authorities are urging the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19, following a U.S. donation Monday of 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses. Cameroonians can now choose between the Chinese Sinopharm, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs but vaccine hesitancy remains high.
Just 10 civilians have visited the Biyem Assi hospital in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde today to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Among them is Olivia Forbi, a 38-year-old vegetable seller.
Forbi said she wants the Johnson & Johnson vaccine she heard about from Cameroon state radio.
"I have learnt that Johnson & Johnson is more than 75 percent effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus and secondly, you take it in one dose. Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, you take in two doses. You spend more time going for the second dose," said Forbi.
On July 21, President Joe Biden announced the U.S. was shipping 1.3 million vaccine doses to Africa. Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gambia, Lesotho, Niger, Senegal and Zambia are the seven beneficiaries.
Mary Daschbach is in charge of mission at the U.S. embassy in Yaounde. She says she handed over 303,050 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to the government of Cameroon on Monday.
"We don't want to see people dying in Cameroon from the variant that is raging round the rest of the world. We have seen what it has done in Indonesia, we have seen what it has done in Tunisia and we see what it is doing in the United States to people who have chosen not to get vaccinated. It is very important, the vaccine is effective at preventing people from dying," she said.
Dashbach said she was hopeful the 303,050 dozes donated by the United States of America will save 303,050 lives in Cameroon.
Manaouda Malachie is Cameroon's health minister. He said civilians should consider Johnson & Johnson as another life-saving vaccine.
He said he is very grateful to the American government and its people for making it possible for Cameroon to have a variety of COVID-19 vaccines. He said he is pleading with people from 18 years and above who are still reluctant to be vaccinated to rush for either the Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm or AstraZeneca vaccines and save their lives.
Cameroon has received more than a million doses since April, but less than 25 percent of the vaccines have been dispensed.
Alirou Bachirou is a 24-year-old cattle seller who has refused vaccination.
Bachirou said he prefers local remedies Cameroon government has officially introduced to stop the spread of COVID 19. He said people should trust African healers’ remedies and stop believing that all solutions to their health problems must come from America or Europe.
This month, Cameroon approved the sale of a herbal remedy from Samuel Kleda, a Roman Catholic bishop in the Central African.
The government said the recipe is supplementary aid to fighting coronavirus infections and was not a cure for COVID-19.