ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Africa is seeing an increase in vaccine dose deliveries to the continent, but only one in four of its health workers has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the regional office said Thursday. the World Health Organization.
The most common reasons for the low immunization rate among health workers on the continent of about 1.3 billion people include reluctance to immunize and unavailability of immunization services, especially in rural areas, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa, said during an online press briefing.
This is in stark contrast to more developed countries where more than 80% of health and care workers in 22 countries, mostly high-income, have been fully immunized, according to a recent WHO study.
The low vaccination rate among health workers in Africa “endangers not only their own health and well-being, but also that of the patients they care for,” Moeti warned, calling on African countries to “step up. urgently deploying vaccines. to those on the front lines.
Africa suffers from a severe shortage of health workers, with only one country in the region having the recommended number of health workers to provide essential health services.
“Any loss of these essential workers to COVID-19 due to illness or death therefore has a dramatic impact on the capacity to deliver services,” the WHO office in Nigeria said in a report. communicated.
Many African health workers, including those working in rural communities, still have “concerns about vaccine safety and unwanted side effects,” WHO regional director Moeti said.
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, only 300,000 – or 18% – of its 1.6 million health workers have been fully immunized.
A recent study also found that only 40% of health workers intended to receive the vaccine while less than 50% hope to be vaccinated in Ethiopia, the WHO said.
To increase the immunization rate among health workers in Nigeria, nurses and midwives need to be more involved in the immunization process, according to the president of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria. With this and through health education, “many people will be convinced” to get vaccinated, said Michael Nnachi. “When nurses are directly involved, we can do more. “
About 7% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, mainly due to delays in vaccine supply and reluctance to get vaccinated, Moeti said. But after months of difficulty in obtaining the necessary supplies, Africa is now seeing “an acceleration in the availability of vaccines”.
As more doses arrive on the continent, more countries are introducing warrants – often targeting officials and public places – to increase the immunization rate.
“It will be good to balance the approaches of persuasion, information sharing, expansion of delivery capacity, scaling up of campaigns as well as using this additional tool to further motivate people to get vaccinated.” because they need to get the services they need, ”says Moëti.