Health

Why are COVID vaccination rates still low in some countries?

Limited supplies remain a problem, but experts say other problems now include unpredictable supplies, weak health systems and vaccine hesitancy.

Most countries with low vaccination rates are in Africa. As of the end of February, 13 countries in Africa had fully vaccinated less than 5% of their population, according to Fiona Atuhebwe of the World Health Organization’s Africa Regional Office.

Other countries with extremely low vaccination rates include Yemen, Syria, Haiti and Papua New Guinea.

For much of the past year, developing countries have suffered from supply shortages. Rich countries were hoarding doses, and many countries didn’t have the capacity to produce their own vaccines. COVAX, an initiative to evenly distribute vaccines around the world, has failed to deliver vaccines.

Many rich countries planned to donate doses after their own populations were vaccinated, but the advent of the delta and omicron options spurred booster campaigns that further delayed those plans. Vaccine manufacturers are largely reluctant to share their formulas or technologies, further limiting production.

There were other failures in vaccination.

“A major problem among countries with low vaccination rates is poor distribution infrastructure,” says Dina Borzhekovsky, director of the University of Maryland’s Global Health Initiative. safe sewer systems or reliable electricity.”

Donated vaccines are also sometimes delivered close to their expiration date, leaving health officials little time to distribute them, says MSF’s Sinhye Ha.

Some countries also lack supplies such as injection syringes or ways to keep vaccines at the right temperature.

Mistrust in vaccines, fueled by misinformation and distrust of governments, has also contributed to low vaccine uptake in some countries, Atuhebwe said.


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