World ready to help with vaccines, but uptake readiness must improve

24Sep 2021
The Guardian
World ready to help with vaccines, but uptake readiness must improve

​​​​​​​ANY doubts remaining as to how far the world is prepared to push on with global vaccination to stem the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Africa, Asia and South America, must have cleared.

This is on the basis of what is taking place in the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

US President Joe Biden has pledged something one billion or so doses for countries around the world, the vaccines produced in the US for use under the COVAX mechanism.

Observers said that this scale of donation was equivalent to donating three doses for use in other countries for each dose expected to be used in the US, which more or less covers entire needs for global vaccine outreach.

Tanzania has been taking up a new initiative – including introducing mobile vaccination units to boost a Covid-19 jabs uptake which has remained fairly low since the rollout began in late July.

According to the Health ministry, the move followed insufficient public response to appeals to go to vaccination centres scattered across the country.

This was somewhat surprising in that it suggested that scores of people are too busy to mind their health! Whatever the merits of that explanation, the government has been fighting to rectify matters.

It is surprising that initially there were 550 vaccination centres put up rather rapidly when President Samia Suluhu Hassan flagged off the rollout, the number then rising to at least 1,500 countrywide.

Hospital staff at those centres are far from busy, given the low response levels, as if people were waiting to see if there will be deaths close enough to themselves before going for the jab.

African countries, where vaccine hesitancy is well above levels in developed countries, will still need the vaccine as infection breakout trends are high even in countries with widespread vaccination.

No one wishes that the spate of infections goes up here or in neighbouring countries. However, with the low take-up largely due to faulty reasoning that Covid-19 is for so and so rather than for ‘me’, infections will spread. It can’t be otherwise.

That is why making vaccination much more accessible, with vans moving around and being close to villages or outlying areas even with a day’s is sure to help. When word goes out, at times with loudspeakers blaring it all over, people will think harder and longer as to whether they do or don’t need the jab. It may just work; reminders can push uptake.

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