Vaccine Ambassadors: The race to vaccinate Cameroon’s school communities
Cameroon is considering taking COVID-19 vaccines to schools amid a rise in the number of new cases.
- 26 October 2021
- 3 min read
- by Nalova Akua
Eighteen-year-old Ndongmo Pride, a student at the Government Bilingual High School in Cameroon’s capital city of Yaounde, didn’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine until circumstances forced him to.
“I took the vaccine because it was one of the requirements for a competitive entrance examination I was writing,” Ndogmo says. “Not every student wants to take the vaccine. I don’t know why. It is important to take the vaccine. I won’t mind taking the vaccine in future. I felt very normal after taking it. Every member of my family has been vaccinated.”
“We want these students to be our vaccine ambassadors by telling their parents and loved ones how important it is for them, and Cameroon, that they be vaccinated.”
Primary and secondary schools opened their doors for the 2021-2022 academic year in Cameroon on 6 September, five months after the country launched its national vaccination campaign.
How and when to take COVID-19 vaccines to schools is a major preoccupation for the government.
“Given the increased transmission risk present in school settings, we are encouraging the vaccination of teachers, school officials, students 18 years and above, and visitors to school facilities to limit COVID-19 in schools,” says Dr Tchokfe Shalom Ndoula, Permanent Secretary, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in Cameroon.
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“Data shows that COVID-19 infection also occurs in persons younger than 18 years, the eligible age for COVID-19 vaccination in Cameroon. While we look at when to start vaccinating those under 18 years of age, we do expect them, as with the rest of the population, to continue social distancing, washing hands and using face masks. Immunisation of those above 18 years in the schooling system should also limit transmission in persons less than 18 years old,” Dr Tchokfe adds.
On 22 September, Cameroon’s Minister of Public Health, Malachie Manaouda, visited nine primary and secondary schools in Yaounde to assess the measures put in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
“My friends! In order to block the way of COVID-19, you must wash your hands regularly with running water and soap, wear your face masks and observe physical distance with your comrades. Mum and Dad should also be told to get vaccinated to protect the whole family,” Manaouda told pupils and students.
“We want these students to be our vaccine ambassadors by telling their parents and loved ones how important it is for them, and Cameroon, that they be vaccinated. The objective being to achieve collective immunity,” he told the press.