Cameroon’s medical authorities say over 200,000 children have not received routine vaccinations on schedule since March, when the country had its first case of COVID-19. Parents are refusing to take their kids to hospitals because they fear they may be infected with the virus, which has spread to nearly 17,000 people and caused nearly 400 deaths.
Doctors are warning that without the vaccinations, children in Cameroon risk preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles, and tetanus. A pediatrician in the capital’s largest hospital says they should have had 2,300 children for routine vaccinations since March. But they have seen only about half the children.
The deputy permanent secretary of Cameroon’s National Expanded Program for Immunization, Shalom Tchokfe says they have deployed staff to look for the children. Teams can meet the children in their houses, said Tchokfe.
Parents and health workers are safe during routine vaccinations at hospitals, he said, as long as they wear their masks and wash their hands regularly.