In Africa, Mix of Shots Drive an Uncertain Covid Vaccination Push
But most African countries now have too little of everything to envision a vital booster campaign – vaccines, and all the equipment and trained people needed to administer them.
At the vaccine headquarters in Kamakawi, health workers are just trying to figure out how to use the supplies given to them as efficiently as possible. For example, the health ministry instructed health workers to never give Pfizer to teenagers and Johnson & Johnson to teachers, Health Minister Dr. Demby said. Instead, the community came up with that patchwork rubric on its own. Many local officials are hesitant to try to stimulate demand in the public, they said, not knowing what shot they will get and when.
On a recent Tuesday, the vaccination team, accompanied by a small Styrofoam cooler of their vaccines mishmash, headed down a rough dirt track to the village of Kathantha Yimbo, about a 40-minute drive. An advance team had passed with a motorbike and a bullhorn and were urging all those who had vaccination cards to come to the central square.
About 40 people went astray, but most of the cards showed that they already had two sinoform shots. He was sent away with no boosters offered. Some people had an AstraZeneca, but it was given last June, so the second shot they got that day came about six months later than the recommended eight- to 12-week interval.
Ragiyatu Dumbuya, 35, who was selling fried cakes at the market, came to see what the excitement was like and decided to get her first vaccine, as the shots were there. He had heard about Covid on a DVD of news reports that a friend of his had bought in the city and played in the market recently. “I’ve seen people die from Covid sometimes, so I’ll take it, even though I’m not sure what it will do for me,” she said, before asking Pfizer from a vial brought to her by the team. Vaccine was given.
Mr. Conteh gave her a blue card recording her first vaccination and sent her on the way. No one discussed when – or if – he might get a second.
Noah Weiland, matina stevis-gridneff, Monica Pronzuk And Apoorva Mandavili Contributed to reporting.
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