In a population of over 200 million people, only 1.1 per cent (2.17 million) of Nigerians have received the full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Data from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) also shows that over 4.9 million people have received one dose of the jab bringing the total number of vaccinated Nigerians to 7.13 million.
Nigeria officially joined the global vaccination campaign on March 2, 2021 with the arrival of approximately 3.94 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and shipped from Mumbai to Abuja.
By March 15, about 8,000 people had received the first dose of the vaccine. Over 513,626 were partly vaccinated by the end of the month. The number increased to 1,222,109 by May 1. By May 25, about 8,815 people were fully vaccinated.
May ended with 73,465 people being fully vaccinated. This was an 88 per cent increase in the vaccination number because most people became eligible for a second dose of the vaccine at the time.
The numbers continued to jump as more people, who had taken the first dose, reached the date for their second dose. Usually, both doses of the vaccine are given at least one month apart. AstraZeneca, which was the first vaccine available in the country, requires at least 10 additional days, while Moderna is given four weeks after the first jab. This explains the slow build-up of numbers for the second dose and eventual spike.
On June 15, about 680,345 people were fully vaccinated and the numbers crossed one million by June 24. By the end of the month, over 1.2 million people were fully vaccinated. July 12 saw 2,536,205 people take the vaccine with 1,404,740 people fully vaccinated.
About 3.4 million people got the vaccine on Sept. 5 with over 1.5 million of them fully vaccinated. By Oct. 7, the numbers rose to 4,963,983 people, with 2,166,186 of them fully vaccinated.
As countries continue to strengthen their vaccination campaigns with unique programmes, over 6.5 billion doses have been distributed globally out of which about 2.78 billion people have been fully vaccinated.
In May, the World Health Assembly had set a goal for countries to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population of every country, especially among the vulnerable group, by the end of September.
About a month to the deadline, reports by WHO indicated that nearly 80 per cent of African countries, including Nigeria, were set to miss the urgent global goal. By Oct. 1, Nigeria had only fully vaccinated one per cent of its population.
In a virtual conference on Sept. 30, the Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator, Dr. Richard Mihigo, said 23 million jabs had arrived in Africa at the time, which was a ten-fold increase from June.
Yet, only about 60 million Africans have been comprehensively inoculated with two per cent of the more than six billion doses donated globally administered in Africa. In comparison, about 54 per cent of people have been fully vaccinated in the United States of America, 65.2 per cent in Japan and 67.2 per cent in the United Kingdom.
Nine African countries including South Africa, Morocco, and Tunisia, already reached the global target. Mihigo said Seychelles and Mauritius have fully immunised over 60 per cent of their populations, Morocco 48 per cent, and Tunisia, Comoros, and Cape Verde covering over 20 per cent.
Reasons for Nigeria’s pace
Most of the compliant African countries have a relatively small populace and 40 per cent are island states.
For the non-island countries that have reached the goal, the WHO noted that they “have enjoyed sufficient supplies of vaccines, and many could access doses from separate sources in addition to those delivered through the COVAX facility.”
It added that half of the 52 African countries that have received the vaccines had only vaccinated just two per cent or less of their populations.
Mihigo said, “the latest data show modest gains, but there is still a long way to go to reach the WHO target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of the population by the end of the year. Shipments are increasing but opaque delivery plans are still the number one nuisance that holds Africa back.”
At the beginning of the vaccination campaign in Nigeria, the government had set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by the end of 2022.
Recently, the second phase of the vaccination campaign was flagged off after the receipt of another four million doses of Moderna vaccines from the U.S. government.
Another 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines were also received from the African Union (AU).
On Aug. 17, Nigeria took delivery of 699,760 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines from the U.K. government.
But seven months after it commenced, Nigeria has missed the WHO vaccination goal due to the shortage of vaccines and data shows that more vaccines are needed for the country to ramp up the exercise and achieve desired herd immunity.
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