The World Health Organization says Africa is seeing an increase in shipments of vaccine doses to the continent, but only one in four of its health workers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
There is a severe shortage of health workers in Africa, with only one country in the region having the recommended number of health workers to provide essential health services.
Moeti, the WHO regional director, said many health workers in Africa, including those working in rural communities, were still “concerned about vaccine safety and adverse side effects.”
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, only 300,000 of its 1.6 million health workers – or 18% – have been fully vaccinated.
The WHO said a recent study also found that only 40% of healthcare workers intend to receive the vaccine, while less than 50% expect to get their shot in Ethiopia.
According to the President of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, in order to increase the vaccination rate among health workers in Nigeria, nurses and midwives need to be more involved in the vaccination process. With this and through health education, “many people will be convinced” to get the vaccine, Michael Nanachi said. “When nurses are directly involved, we can achieve more.”
Moeti said about 7% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, mainly due to vaccine supply delays and vaccine hesitation. But after challenging months in obtaining essential supplies, Africa is now seeing an “acceleration in the availability of vaccines”.
As more doses are arriving on the continent, more countries are introducing mandates – often targeting government employees and public places – to increase vaccination rates.
“It would be good to balance the approach of using persuasion, information sharing, expanding capacity to deliver, intensifying campaigns as well as using additional tools to motivate people to get vaccinated because they need to get those services. What they need,” Moeti said.