Tanzania’s Vaccination U-Turn

A nation’s president getting a COVID-19 vaccine is no longer news, but it is in Tanzania.

When the new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, got her COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, it marked a dramatic reversal for her nation, the BBC reports.
Under Hassan’s predecessor John Magufuli, Tanzania was one of 4 anti-vax holdouts in Africa (along with Burundi, Eritrea and Madagascar), according to NPR Goats and Soda. Misinformation spread by Magufuli and other officials turned the public against vaccines, despite the country’s standout record on child immunizations.

“The obvious truth is that the general public is still deeply divided about vaccines,” says a Dar es Salaam doctor. “For a long time, people were officially made to believe that vaccines are not safe.”
Even as the country got its first shipment of 1 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses last week, it has a lot of work to do to convince its people to step up for shots.
Another positive sign: After suppressing COVID-19 case counts for more than a year, Tanzania made its data public late last month though the numbers ( 858 cases and 29 deaths as of July 22) are infrequently updated.

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