Nigeria's vaccine rollout gains pace as public confidence increases
Nigeria's vaccine rollout has slowly gained pace in the past month as public confidence in the West African nation increases and the government assured citizens they will not receive expired doses.
Nigerians were rattled by reports of vaccines with looming expiry dates and worried about whether the shots they would get were safe and effective, complicating the government's efforts to get as many shots into arms as possible.
Nigeria, like other African countries, initially struggled to get doses as rich nations snapped up limited supplies.
Deliveries later picked up, but some shots donated by individual countries or via the global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX arrived with a very short shelf life, leading them to expire.
Nigeria has said it will no longer accept vaccines close to expiry.
The daily vaccine uptake doubled to 200,000 doses in December and January, Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency said.
In December, Nigeria destroyed more than a million doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccines as it sought to assure a wary public that they had been taken out of circulation.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa's top public health body, told a virtual media briefing on Thursday that news of expired vaccines had created "some kind of hesitation" among sceptical citizens.
He said last week that roughly 0.5% of the 572 million doses delivered to date had expired. Other African countries have also destroyed them like Nigeria.
Africa's public health bodies have now called for donated vaccines to come with a shelf life of three to six months.
Nkengasong noted more African countries were recording increases in the number of people being vaccinated as communication and community engagement improved, he said.
Around 2.6% of Nigeria's population have been fully vaccinated, while 14 million received a first dose.