Will vaccine mandate mean empty Afcon stadiums?

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Some soccer fans are racing to get vaccinated after Cameroon, host nation of the Africa Cup of Nations, said full vaccination and a negative test were compulsory for those who want to attend soccer matches.

Final preparation at various stadiums are under way. But there are concerns seats could remain unfilled even after the first match kicks off on Sunday.

Host nation Cameroon has made full vaccination and a negative test compulsory for spectators to AFCON, Africa’s top soccer tournament.

Fan Yannick Doutse says he’s dreamed of attending a match but that the vaccine requirement is a deal-breaker.

“It will mean that a lot of people won’t make it to the stadium because there are not many people who want to be vaccinated so the stadiums will be a little empty.”

He’s not alone. In Cameroon, skepticism about the importance and safety of the vaccine is high.

Just 2.3% of the population is fully immunized, according to health ministry data, even though doses are now widely available and a fourth wave has taken hold here and across much of the continent.

But health workers have reported an uptick in people getting their shots since the announcement about AFCON.

Odette Felicite is a nurse at a Douala vaccination center.

She says they’re visited by those seeking to boost their immune system, those who want to travel…

“and now we have those who run to get vaccinated because it is a condition to access the stadiums.”

Tournament organizers did not respond to questions on how the policy would affect attendance but a government official said the impact was that people were getting vaccinated “more and more”. – By David Doyle.