Despite the ever-growing awareness of the importance of vaccination to curb the spread of COVID-19, there has been a low vaccination rate in Nigeria. As of the end of August, 0.7% of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 1.5% of the estimated 220 million population has received the first jab of the vaccine.
This development can be attributed to many factors. In this post, we would examine the different factors that have led to a low vaccination rate in Nigeria.
Volume of COVID-19 Vaccine
At present, Nigeria has given 4.43 million jabs of COVID-19 vaccines, out of the less than 10 million doses the country has received since the distribution of vaccines began around the world. Nigeria received its first batch of vaccine doses in March 2021, with 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
For the second phase of its vaccination, Nigeria reportedly received over 4 million doses of Moderna vaccine donated by the United States (US) government through the COVAX facility and 117, 600 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine through the African Union and AfreximBank.
An in-depth analysis of these statistics shows that the approximately 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Nigeria have gotten represent 0.005% of the population stand a chance of being vaccinated if only one dose is required. On the other hand, full vaccination represents 0.0025% of the population. During the first phase of the vaccination, on the one hand, an approximate total of 2.84 million doses of vaccine was given out to fully vaccinate 0.7% of the population; while on the other hand, an estimated 1.13 million doses of vaccine were given out to people who were scheduled for the second jab during the now-ongoing second phase of the vaccination.
Indeed, the country is still expecting over 42.5m doses of different vaccine products from the COVAX facility, African Union, and donations from the US Government, United Kingdom (UK) Government, and other countries to be used for the second phase of vaccination. However, the amount received so far has been quite underwhelming for a country with over 200 million people.
Fear of vaccination side effects
Another major problem hindering the vaccination process in Nigeria is the fear of the rumoured side effects of taking the COVID-19 vaccines. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhea, pain at the injection site to mention a few. However, some media outlets on the web have identified some unestablished side effects such as blood clotting, thus prompting hesitance from Nigerians to get vaccinated.
A major factor that has hindered the vaccination rate of Nigerians is the different conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. The most popular conspiracy theory circulating via online platforms is that the COVID-19 vaccine could monitor the human population and take over the world. One theory proposed was the COVID-19 vaccine would contain a microchip through which biometric data could be collected, and large businesses could send signals to the chips using 5G networks, thereby controlling humanity.
In addition to the above, the disposition of some religious organisations towards vaccination by reportedly banning members from being vaccinated has hindered this process in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire statement on the challenges facing the country’s response to COVID-19 gives credence to the notion above.
He said, “I do not believe that all African countries are prepared, there are countries that require some support,” the minister said.
“We are very worried because of our population, and the similarity with India – with high population density and the fervor for politics and religion, which lead people very often to ignore the public health advisories that we have put in place.”
A critical analysis of this statement shows that the religiosity of many Nigerians has also affected vaccination in Nigeria.
In addition, the widely circulated rumour that COVID-19 did not hit Africa well because of the hotness of the continent has continued to affect the process of vaccination as a lot of Nigerians result in unproven self-medication to combat the virus rather than go to the health centers for appropriate treatment. In a bid to curb the numerous myths about vaccination, WHO has dedicated its time to curbing misinformation by coming out to state that:
- Hydroxychloroquine does not have clinical benefits in treating COVID-19;
- The COVID-19 virus can spread in hot and humid climates;
- Immunity boosters do not protect against COVID-19;
- High temperatures are not proven to prevent COVID-19. UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes.
Lack of Information on vaccination process
There is a lack of adequate information concerning the vaccination of residents of the country. A huge chunk of Nigerians are not aware of the centres allocated for vaccination in their respective states.
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