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Amid Low COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake, Catholic Bishop in Cameroon Encourages Vaccination

Bishop Michael Bibi of Cameroon's Buea Diocese. Credit: Divine Mercy Radio, Buea Diocese/Facebook

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buea in Cameroon has encouraged the people of God within his pastoral jurisdiction to take part in the ongoing vaccination exercise amid reported low COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

In a statement published Tuesday, August 17, Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi calls on the people of God in the Cameroonian Catholic Diocese to “be vaccinated against this virus which we all know, has taken the lives of so many in our country Cameroon and in the World at large.”

In the statement, Bishop Bibi announces the creation of a COVID-19 vaccination centre at the Diocese of Buea-owned Mount Mary Hospital.

He prays that his plea for a higher COVID-19 vaccine uptake “will be treated as a matter of urgency.”

Less than 0.3 percent of Cameroonians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the availability of more than one million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson jabs in the Central African country. 

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According to a May survey by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Cameroon, concerns about the vaccines’ safety remain a stumbling block to the vaccination campaign that was launched in April. 

OCHA officials observed that 37 percent of doctors and medical staff in the country were unwilling to receive the jab, questioning its reliability. 

They added that “the multiple-dose vaccines discourage recipients and there is a general lack of follow-up and mobilization strategy for the second dose of the vaccine.”

Cameroon has recorded at least 82,454 cases of the novel coronavirus including 1,338 deaths and 80,433 recoveries. 

In the statement addressed to the Clergy, members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, all Societies of Apostolic Life and Lay faithful in the Diocese of Buea, Bishop Bibi also calls on Cameroonians to remain vigilant and adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

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“Stay safe and be rest assured of my constant prayers for all of you in this challenging time,” says the Bishop who was appointed the Local Ordinary of the Cameroonian Diocese in January this year.

The fight against the spread of the global pandemic “is not a fight for some, we all have the moral obligation in conscience to protect ourselves and our communities,” Bishop Bibi adds in the statement published August 17.