Vaccination is very vital to the growth of children but with the outbreak of Covid-19, vaccination exercises in Cameroon have become more complex. From postponing campaigns to parents withdrawing from hospital setups, children aged 0-23 months are left exposed to at least 12 diseases.
In March 2020, after the first Covid-19 case was announced in Cameroon, the government postponed the March 2020 Vaccination campaign so as to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. Though this didn’t stop vaccination at the level of hospitals, the use of immunization services by families have decrease.
According to Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, the use of social media during the pandemic increased by 40 percent, with the wild spread of misinformation and disinformation, which fueled the boycott of hospitals in Cameroon. This makes the management of the pandemic more difficult as getting an antidote against fake news is challenging.
To Dr. Cheboh Cornelius, coordinator for the Expanded Program for Immunization in the North West Region, the low turnout at the hospital is as a result of rumors circulating on social media platforms. “Some people are disseminating false stories surrounding vaccines of Covid-19. They say children will be vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccines. People are also afraid to come to the hospital because they think it is an infected environment so they keep children at home rather than bring them for vaccinations”.
Coupled with the armed conflict rocking the region, vaccination coverage has greatly dropped. “The North West region used to be the best in terms of vaccination coverage in the country but we are currently at the 7th position”, says Dr Cheboh Cornelius.
The low national vaccination coverage has given room for rising epidemics such as measles and cholera. Cameroon has reported over 980 cholera cases and 45 deaths since the beginning of 2020. The government is yet to execute a mass campaign against Cholera in the country.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF have of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world. This is due to disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunization services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new data by WHO and UNICEF, these disruptions threaten to reverse hard-won progress to reach more children and adolescents with a wider range of vaccines, which has already been hampered by a decade of stalling coverage.