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Just three days before the Africa Cup of Nations is launched in Cameroon, vaccination centers are packed.

Football fans are queueing to receive their jab here in Yaoundé, and for good reason; the vaccine is required to access the stadiums. To attend the matches, spectators must show proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test for the coronavirus that is less than 72 hours old. The vaccination campaign has accelerated tremendously because of the upcoming football tournament.

The launching of the AFCON has convinced Tatiana Dirane to get the jab: “We’re trying to respect what is said about COVID and restrictions. In addition to that, the AFCON is here this time, in Cameroon, and I want to fully experience it therefore nothing should prevent me from attending the AFCON. That’s why I came to get the vaccine.”

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The resident of Yaoundé and football soccer fan is not the only one in this situation. “I was opposed to the vaccination, Patrick Olama explains. I was really motivated this time to get vaccinated in order to attend the match and support the team.”

In the Central African country, the ministry of Health estimated in late December that only 6% of the population was fully vaccinated. Up to now, a vast majority of the 26 million Cameroonians has turned down the numerous invitations of the authorities to get the vaccine.

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So, the unhoped success of the new campaign has surprised Dr Lucien Mama, the head of a vaccination center. “Well, we didn’t expect this number of people asking for the vaccine. So we don’t have enough staff at the moment, but we have all the inputs, all the possible resources to vaccinate these people.”

Can the enthusiasm for vaccination last? One thing is certain; Cameroonians will support their squad as the Indomitable Lions face Burkina Faso on Sunday, January 9.

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