People in African Union member states are overwhelmingly willing to get vaccinated. Across 19 countries, 78 percent of people surveyed by the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19 indicated they had been or were willing to get vaccinated.
According to the new research, the gap between acceptance and coverage demonstrates a substantial unmet need and underscores the importance of consistent and predictable vaccine supply, as well as increased support for vaccination programs in Africa.
The latest PERC findings, released last week, also look at why global vaccination efforts have been plagued by inequity, as well as logistical challenges to vaccinating the African continent. At 78 percent, vaccine acceptance among Africans was found to be higher than in the previous PERC survey fielded earlier this year, which placed it at 67 percent.
As of Tuesday, data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicates less than 9 percent of the African continent has been fully vaccinated, with 13 percent of the population being partially vaccinated.
In East Africa, for instance, Rwanda leads in dispensing the vaccines, administering over 11.4 million doses, or 83.8 percent of the 13.6 million it has received.
Tanzania has given out about half of its vaccines at 2.04 million out of the 4.4 million received. Kenya is third, having administered nine million doses out of the 23.2 million it has received. Uganda, on the other hand, has the highest number of vaccines sitting in its stores, having administered 8.9 million doses of the 32.09 million received.
“We must work urgently toward equitable access to safe and effective vaccines on the African continent. The PERC data show demand for vaccines is substantially higher than supply,” said John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC.
The report further outlines the continued importance of preventive measures, particularly individual measures such as masking and social distancing, that minimize the social or economic harm that can occur when mobility, economic and social gathering restrictions are imposed.
“A number of bottlenecks have contributed to the failure to achieve higher vaccination coverage on the continent. Unpredictable supply in terms of volume, timing and shelf life threatens countries’ ability to meet demand. When offered, vaccination is frequently inconvenient, requiring people to travel long distances or visit vaccination sites at inopportune times,” the report stated.
Early this month, African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the COVAX Initiative noted the majority of vaccine donations to Africa have been unpredictable.
“This has made it extremely challenging for countries to plan vaccination campaigns and increase absorptive capacity. To achieve higher coverage rates across the continent, and for donations to be a sustainable source of supply that can complement supply from Avat and COVAX purchase agreements, this trend must change,” they said in a joint statement.