Doctors get Nigeria’s first COVID-19 vaccine

A doctor who has spent the previous year treating COVID-19 patients, became the first person in Nigeria to receive the disease vaccine, kicking off a massive campaign that aims to inoculate 80 million people this year.

Vaccinating all of Nigeria’s 200 million population, as well as those in other developing countries, is seen as critical to halting the coronavirus’s global spread.

“I am happy to be the first and I am happy I am not the last,” the doctor, 42-year-old Ngong Cyprian, said “I want everybody to be vaccinated.”

As cameras rolled and officials clapped and chanted, two other male doctors and one female nurse were inoculated in white tents covered in gold, the national flag’s colors.

Nigeria, which has 157,671 reported COVID-19 cases and 1,951 deaths, has not been as badly affected by the pandemic as some had predicted, however it is planning to vaccinate 40% of its population this year and another 30% in 2022.

It received 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX scheme on Tuesday, and plans to receive 84 million doses this year through COVAX.

Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and the World Health Organization are co-leading the scheme for low- and middle-income countries, with UNICEF as an implementation partner.

Nigeria also anticipates receiving at least 40 million doses from the African Union, as well as 100,000 doses of India’s Covishield vaccine donated by the country.

On Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari and other “strategic leaders” will be vaccinated in an attempt to boost public confidence in the vaccines.

However, delivering doses to the rest of the country, with its potholed roads and lawless regions, is a huge challenge. Airports are not available in every state, and rail networks are restricted.

In the coming weeks, Nigeria’s 36 states, including Lagos, the country’s commercial capital and epicenter of the pandemic, will receive vaccines. According to seroprevalence reports, 23 percent of Lagos residents could have had COVID-19 in October

Sending vaccines to states, according to Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, would be contingent on their readiness, which includes staff preparation, cold chain storage management, protection in transit and at vaccination sites, and a variety of other factors.

Islamist rebels in the northeast and increasingly brazen armed bandits in the northwest have abducted hundreds of schoolchildren in recent months, posing a serious security threat to large parts of the north.

Adults with pre-existing conditions will be among the first to receive vaccinations, followed by frontline healthcare workers and employees in key sectors such as oil and gas. After that, anyone over the age of 18 should be vaccinated, with the exception of pregnant women.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control “Vaccines provide light at the end of the tunnel, but we must get to the end of the tunnel,”

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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