Since it was first detected in China in December 2019, the virus has infected over 92 million people and killed nearly two million across the world.
Hopes about ending the pandemic has improved over the past few weeks with the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, the United Kingdom, and a few other countries.
A mass deployment of vaccines is expected in 2021, but attempts at a successful vaccination campaign are weighed down by concerns about the vaccines, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.
The NPHCDA, charged with the responsibility for all vaccine matters in Nigeria, said in a statement on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 that it remains committed to making COVID-19 vaccines available and accessible to Nigerians.
The agency warned that the second wave of the virus is especially brutal in Nigeria, and that Nigerians must disregard the misinformation campaign surrounding the vaccine.
“Remember, your health is your life, and your life is your right! Protect yourselves, your families and loved ones from COVID-19. Get vaccinated,” the agency’s executive director, Faisal Shuaib, said.
According to a public opinion poll conducted by NOI Polls in December 2020, 61% of respondents expressed willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made readily available in Nigeria.
An analysis of respondents across regions showed that 72% of Nigerians in the north are willing to accept the vaccine, while only 47% of Nigerians in the south are eager to receive it.
More Muslims (72%) are also willing to receive the vaccine compared to Christians (52%), according to NOI Polls’ analysis.
Of the 39% of respondents unwilling to take the vaccine, the top three reasons are “Government are just using us to make money”, “I won’t be infected, I believe in God”, and “I don’t like the vaccine”.
Despite the willingness of majority of respondents to receive the vaccine, only 36% want it to be made compulsory for all citizens with the top reason being for public safety.
Nigeria hopes to start a mass vaccination campaign at the end of January, with the delivery of 42 million doses of the vaccine expected by the end of the year.
That figure is expected to inoculate less than half of the nation’s estimated population of 200 million.
Since Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case was detected last February, over 102,000 infections have been recorded, with a dreaded second wave of infections kicking off in December.