ABUJA, NIGERIA – Nigerian authorities are stepping up efforts to vaccinate more people against COVID-19 after a slow rollout blamed on misinformation. Authorities aim to vaccinate over 80 million Nigerians by year’s end but are running far behind schedule.
An Abuja vaccination center, which opened March 16, one week after Nigeria’s official vaccine rollout, vaccinates between 50 and 100 people daily.
It is one of many vaccination locations in the Nigerian capital.
Abuja resident Olu Agunbiade visited the center to get his first shot and says receiving the vaccine makes him feel safer.
“I can venture out into the world with a form of protection,” he told VOA. “I know that doesn’t mean I can’t still contract COVID, but at least I have antibodies, I can fight it.”
Nigeria received about 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine early last month.
Authorities say they will vaccine around 80 million people by the end of the year, but so far, only about 1 million have received shots.
Although authorities say more Nigerians are now getting vaccinated, Abuja Primary Healthcare Board Executive Secretary Ndeyo Iwot says vaccine hesitancy and misinformation about the coronavirus are to blame for the low numbers.
“There’s a very big problem. Now start from the beginning, how many people even believed that we have the pandemic here? And now you want to bring vaccine for what they did not believe in the first instance? We have a lot of work to do,” Iwot says.
As workaround, authorities are trying to increase vaccine awareness in communities, villages, and marketplaces.
Despite this, though, citizens like Richard Uka insist they will not get the vaccine.
“To be sincere, I don’t think this is necessary, to me it’s not necessary,” Uka told VOA. “And I believe that in Nigeria nothing works. How do you think that that vaccine works or how do we know that it works?”
Nigeria needs to vaccinate about 150 million citizens by next year to attain herd immunity.
Iwot, though, says getting adequate doses of vaccines may prove difficult.
“Looking at the pandemic situation in Europe, India and the U.S.A. and the U.K., some of them are experiencing the third and fourth spikes now and India that was giving us is also having spikes now. So many of the dosages they have will be consumed there,” Iwot told VOA.
Very few African countries are able to manufacture the coronavirus vaccines, creating heavy dependence on foreign manufacturers.
The World Health Organization says the continent has so far received less than 2% of the global 690 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines.