Slow vaccine uptake now plagues Africa

Saturday November 13 2021
Covid-19 jab

A nurse administers Covid-19 jab. FILE PHOTO | COURTESY


Some African countries have now moved from vaccine scarcity to slow vaccine uptake, according to the World Health Organisation, Regional Office for Africa.

“Africa’s biggest bottleneck at the start of the whole vaccination process was access. It has taken Africa, such a long time to get to the six percent compared with a country like the UK. For example, it would take them just a week to get to that level. Vaccine supply has now gradually increased in the past few months and we’re now seeing more doses coming onto the continent. But we’re now experiencing a vaccine utilisation problem,” she said Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, New Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa.

As of Thursday this week, the continent had only vaccinated six percent of its population fully. She said WHO was assisting countries boost their capacity to roll out and expand vaccination drives.

“We have targeted support for countries that have low absorption, like the DR Congo, South Sudan, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon to increase vaccination.”

She said Uganda, where schools have been closed for almost two years, was now vaccinating children above the age of 12 up to 18, in readiness for school re-opening in January.

As of Friday, about half of all the doses delivered on the continent had been administered.


Countries are supposed to vaccinate at least 40 percent of their populations by the end of year, and 70 percent by the end of next year. But so far the continent has only covered six percent of its population. While 9.2 percent are partially vaccinated.

In East Africa, Rwanda has fully vaccinated 17.46 percent of its eligible population as of Friday; Kenya has fully vaccinated 3.41 percent of its population, Tanzania stands at 0.59 percent of the population, Uganda 0.91 percent, South Sudan 0.29 percent and Burundi 0 percent.

WHO said it would not put mandates on individual countries that haven't hit their vaccination targets as “all countries are sovereign.”

There are been more than 8.5 million Covid-19 cases in Africa, and more than 200,000 deaths reported. Cases had generally plunged for 10 weeks but new cases have jumped by more than 60 percent in recent weeks with surge in Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, Mauritius and Egypt.

WHO said the most active cases were reported from the central African region of Cameroon, Gabonand Republic of Congo.