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What you should know as Nigeria sets to receive COVID-19 vaccines

On March 1, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire announced that the country is expecting 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. This is the first batch of the 16 million doses planned for the country over the coming months.

This makes Nigeria the third West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Apparently, vaccination only began in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on March 1, 2021, where the vaccines were delivered last week.

These doses are scheduled for delivery by the COVAX Facility’s Gavi Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) established to provide donor-funded vaccines to lower-income countries.

How to register for COVID-19 vaccination

Source: NPHCDA Website

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is saddled with the responsibility of receiving, storing, and distributing the vaccines. In the order of vaccination, priority groups will be considered first, starting with critical healthcare workers.

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Hence, the Agency has opened a portal where people can register and be scheduled for vaccination. To register, visit the NPHCDA website, click on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination e-registration link, and fill the form that pops up.

Eligible citizens must be 18 years and above, and vaccination priority is expected to follow this order:

  • Frontline health workers and strategic leadership
  • Age 50 & above with priority for people with other health conditions
  • Age 18 to 45 with  other health conditions
  • Age 18 to 45 without other health conditions

Certain age groups are excluded from vaccination on account of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that children cannot be vaccinated even if they belong to a high-risk group.

Source: WHO website

It pegs the reason on how there isn’t enough safety data on how these group would react to the vaccine as there are no clinical tests to support it yet. Here’s a list of other people that should not take the vaccine.

How soon will you get the COVID-19 shot?

Photo by Tyck via Iwaria

The possible implication of this priority list is that the majority of over 200 million Nigerians might not have access to the vaccine until much later in the year, or when the next batches of vaccines arrive.

Going by Statista’s 2019 age-structure report, 43.6% of the population are not eligible to be vaccinated, and a larger part of 53.6% aged between 15-64 – the youth – are not a top priority.

If you recall, in December 2020, the health minister claimed that Nigeria will receive COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. However, WHO stated that Nigeria was one of the countries that didn’t meet the essential criteria for vaccine transport and storage, thereby making the country ineligible.

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Hope was renewed in mid-February when WHO endorsed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that didn’t require a very cold temperature for storage unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech shot, which must be kept at minus 70 Celsius.

With this set of delivery sorted, Nigeria can get on track with its plan to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in four phases within two years.

While there are no clear indications on how soon vaccination will begin across the 36 states and the FCT, NPHCDA assures Nigeria that it already has storage facilities in place and are currently training health workers that will administer the vaccines.

Still, there is no assurance that this exercise will not be faced with the challenges facing routine immunisation in the country.

At press time, Nigeria has 156,000+ confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,923 recorded deaths. We’ll look out for how the vaccination process goes coming weeks.

Read more on what may have caused the spike in Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases in the past three months.

Featured image credit: Lucio Patone on Unsplash


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