Less than one per cent of Nigeria’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the third wave hits the country harder.
The data released by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Tuesday showed that of the country’s nearly 212.4 million population, only about 1.4 million had received full vaccination against the disease.
This represents only 0.7 per cent.
As of Monday, nearly 2.8 million people had got the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the only vaccine available to the country since April, until August 2, when the United States donated four million doses of Moderna.
Nigeria also received additional 592,880 doses of AstraZeneca from the UK in August.
Even though the country has some vaccine candidates, it is yet to produce any vaccine against the disease, and it has been a victim of vaccine diplomacy.
The World Health Organization has consistently been advocating for vaccine equity.
Foremost Professor of Virology Oyewale Tomori had criticised the Nigerian government, alleging that 60 years after her Independence, the country could only boast of two functional laboratories handling pandemic when COVID-19 emerged.
He said the failure to provide a functional health system was pervasive across Africa, making Nigeria and the continent unprepared to face a pandemic.
Tomori said though Nigeria learnt lessons from handling disease conditions, including Ebola, Lassa Fever, Monkey Pox, COVID-19, among others, the country soon disposed of such experience.
He said disunity in Africa would halt the continent’s journey towards self-sufficiency in vaccines and other medical areas.
“There’s a frenzy now of building COVID vaccine all over Africa. Years ago, the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative set up a committee and was looking at this issue of vaccine production in Africa.
“They talked of regional setup, not producing the same vaccine, but different vaccine so that if A produces one type of vaccine, all of Africa will buy. What are we getting now? The European companies are coming in and disrupting all those things,” Tomori had said in a report where he added that Nigeria was not ready to combat the future pandemic, including COVID-19.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, Executive Director of NPHCDA Faisal Shuaib said the phase two vaccination had commenced in 35 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
Shuaib urged leaders to encourage people in their domains to take the vaccine at designated centres nearest to them.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government would make vaccination compulsory for people in the country whenever there were enough vaccines for everyone, the NPHCDA boss hinted.
He said though the government respected its citizens’ rights, it would ‘apply the basic rule’ guaranteeing others’ rights to be protected against the virus.
“The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities. Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, we would need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness, and liberty around vaccine hesitancy.
“If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not, due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins. So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others.”
He also reminded that vaccination against the virus had become mandatory for all pilgrims to the holy cities of Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem.
He cautioned against disinformation and fake news that could engender vaccine apathy and threaten the general wellbeing of the people in the country.
According to him, Nigeria and the rest of the world needed to end the pandemic, recover from its economic adversities and return to normalcy.
While highlighting Nigeria’s victory over misconception and disinformation that greeted the vaccination of the country’s children against polio years back, Shuaib urged that people in the country support the government with a similar will to make COVID-19 vaccination a success.
Though he said the government would not join issues with purveyors of fake information, he explained that a purported report on a US Supreme Court cancelling universal vaccination was fake.
He emphasised that the concept of ‘universal vaccination’ did not exist.
Nigeria has faced a spike in the third wave of coronavirus, while most of the doctors working in public hospitals have been on strike since August 2.
As of August 30, The ICIR dashboard showed that the total confirmed cases of the disease in the country was 191,805.
About 178,492 persons with the virus had been discharged, while 2,455 persons had died the virus.