A new research from the Partnership for Evidence-based Response to COVID-19 (PERC) has indicated that 78% of people in African Union member states are willing to get vaccinated.

However, as of November 2021, less than 7% of people in Africa had been vaccinated. This gap between acceptance and coverage demonstrates an unmet need for vaccine supply as well as increased support for vaccination programs in Africa. The latest PERC report considers why global vaccination efforts have been plagued by inequity, as well as the logistical challenges to vaccinating the African continent.

In five surveyed countries; Guinea, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, acceptance was 90% or higher. Vaccine acceptance was high among both those who trusted their government’s pandemic response and those who felt COVID-19 posed a personal risk to them or to their country. Such high acceptance contradicts media reports suggesting that low vaccination rates across Africa are due to hesitancy.

Among the 20% of respondents who expressed vaccine hesitancy, the top reasons were low risk perception at 24%, lack of enough information about vaccines at 22% and lack of trust in government at 17%.

Other factors contributing to a lower vaccination coverage include unpredictable supply in terms of volume, timing and shelf life, threatening countries’ ability to meet demand.

Preventive measures restricting gathering or movement received less support. Additionally, unemployment and food insecurity were widespread among survey respondents and made adherence to restrictive community measures a challenge. PERC researchers concluded that such measures should be targeted to specific, high-risk populations as needed to minimize harm.

Income loss also may have had an adverse impact on access to essential health services. Cost and affordability were cited as the primary obstacles to receiving care. Declines in the number of health visits have likely contributed to declines across key health indicators.

“The PERC data enable policymakers to both save lives and minimize impacts on livelihoods. The global community has an opportunity to invest in health care workers and public health infrastructure to support vaccine delivery and COVID-19 care and prevention in the near term, and also repair and restore health service delivery disrupted by COVID-19 for the long term,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.