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COVID-19: Ethiopian beauty queen on how vaccine hesitancy nearly cost her her life

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 29th November 2021 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- I am Murielle. Former beauty queen. Executive. Mother of three. If there is one thing that characterises me at first sight, it is elegance. I’m always dressed to the nines, perched on high heels. I am the kind of woman you meet in the big African capitals. I should also mention that I am in my fifties. I’m not saying any of this out of pride. I tell you this so that you understand what follows.

Here is my story.

Not long ago, I was like some of you: sceptical about the COVID-19 vaccine. I thought I would wait, observe how things played out, then make up my own mind about whether to get it. When a friend’s husband told us that he had recieved two doses of the vaccine, I thought to myself: let’s see if he develops any side effects.

So I waited. But everything changed one afternoon in September. It began with the typical malaria symptoms : cold, aches, fever. But soon, I had trouble breathing. I was literally suffocating.

Seeing that I was in bad shape, My eldest son decided to call an ambulance. I was taken to a private clinic in Abidjan. They ran some tests. Soon, the diagnosis was in : COVID-19. After analysis, it turned out that I had the Delta variant, which is not covered by health insurance providers in Ivory Coast. I had to pay a deposit before I could be treated. Half-conscious and unable to pay the amount requested, my family rallied together to raise the funds so that I could be admitted. I was in the hospital for a full 10 days. I left exhausted, out of breath, and financially depleted since I had to pay the balance for treatment before I could be released from the hospital.

I’m better today – but I’m far from fully recovered. In fact, the hardest part of this experience is the after effects I still have—especially the breathlessness, despite undergoing aerosol rehabilitation sessions. But I’m grateful that I have my life.

Today, I am passionate about encouraging people to get vaccinated. It’s true that the vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t contract COVID-19. But, it is still the surest way to avoid severe forms of the disease. According to statistics, not only are the vaccines more than 90 per cent effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, they also meet the safety and efficacy criteria established by the WHO and have received the required regulatory approval.

If you’re like me and waiting to see, my message to you is simple : Please don’t wait. Don’t learn the hard way. Don’t wait until its too late.

This article is part of a series on vaccination in Africa brought to you by Africa CDC in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative—a $1.3 billion partnership that is enabling access to COVID-19 vaccinations, and long term health security, for Africa.

© African Media Agency (AMA)

The Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org

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