Nigeria is third West African Country to receive vaccines
By Onche Odeh
The Director General of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Professor Babatunde Salako has said millions of Nigerians are still skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Although Nigeria, on Tuesday, took delivery of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine raising hopes of millions at risk of contracting the disease, rejection portends a potential obstacle to interventions aimed at speedily halting the spread of COVID-19, like it did polio.
In a BBC report, Prof. Salako said surveys have shown that an estimated 30 per cent of Nigeria’s entire populations, amounting to about 60 million are hesitant about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
But the NIMR DG is optimistic that the people could have a general change of mindset if they see high profile politicians come out to get vaccinated.
The delivery of the vaccine had been positively anticipated by majority of the people, as Nigeria plans to vaccinate at least 70% of eligible Nigerians aged 18 years and above in four phases within two years.
This marks the first arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the country, making Nigeria the next West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.
According to the Executive Director and Chief Executive of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the arrival of the vaccine will enable the agency commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with the frontline healthcare workers.
“We are fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians as we have commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels. We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature,” Dr. Shuaib said.
“We are therefore confident that we will have a very effective roll-out of the vaccine, starting with our critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline in providing the care we all need,” he added.
The delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months by the COVAX Facility, as part of an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
“The COVAX Facility, has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that Nigeria gets the vaccine as soon as possible so it can start its vaccination programme to the largest population in Africa,” UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative Peter Hawkins, said.
Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria said vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19, adding that, “in the meantime, Nigerians must continue to take steps to contain the virus, as the vaccination programme will take at least a year before it is fully effective.”