By KRISTA LARSON and MARIA CHENG
SARE GIBEL, Gambia (AP) — Health officials are confronting vaccine reluctance among African women, especially those of childbearing age. Many worry pregnancies will be threatened, and in Africa, the success of a woman’s marriage often depends on how many children she bears. Other women fear the vaccine more than COVID-19; as breadwinners, they can’t miss a day working if side effects hit. Their fears are hardly exceptional, with rumors proliferating across Africa. Fewer than 4% of of Africans are immunized. Although gender data are lacking globally, experts see a growing number of women in Africa’s poorest countries consistently missing vaccines. Officials who already bemoan the inequity of vaccine distribution between rich and poor nations now fear African women are the world’s least vaccinated population.