Ongoing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines is contributing to scepticism from many people across Africa, leading them to shun jabs, the African Union (AU) has said.
The statement was made by William Carew, head of the Secretariat of AU's Economic Social and Cultural Council, as he urged Africans to get vaccinated if herd immunity is to be achieved.
He blamed vaccine hesitancy on widespread misinformation about the jabs.
Only 3.6 per cent of Africa's population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus so far.
"There has been a lot of misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines that had contributed to many people being wary of getting vaccinated," an AU statement issued Tuesday quoting Mr Carew said.
He made the remarks during the AU's Covid-19 vaccines capacity building and sensitisation meeting, which was held recently as part of a continental campaign aimed at promoting the accessibility and use of the vaccines in order to build herd immunity in Africa.
The official called on Africans to implement public health experts' assertion that vaccination remains the only realistic path to finally halting the spread of the virus, given its ease of transmissibility and ability to mutate.
"I want to urge you all to take this opportunity to get the right information about the vaccines and help us to educate the communities that you operate in," Mr Carew told representatives of African civil society organisations at the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that as the Covax facility is forced to slash planned vaccine deliveries to Africa by around 150 million this year, the continent faces a shortage of almost 500 million doses. This is short of the global year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of its population.
With the cutback, Covax is now expected to deliver 470 million doses to Africa this year, which will be enough to vaccinate just 17 per cent of the population, far below the 40 per cent target.
An additional 470 million doses are needed to reach the end-year target even if all planned shipments via Covax, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines, and the AU are delivered, according to the WHO.
As of Tuesday noon, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa reached 8,166,634 while the death toll from the pandemic stood at 206,740, according to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).